Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Mystery

Why is it that although my girls both like to eat raisins plain out of the box, they do not like them in raisin bread? Why must they insist upon picking the raisins out of the raisin bread, or nibbling around the raisins, leaving large crumbs with raisins poking out of them on their plates? It doesn't make sense to me. I remind them how much they both like raisins, I even show them the raisin box and explain that this is the same thing that is in their bread... no luck.

It's kind of like explaining to one of my boys that I put the same sauce on homemade pizza that I do on spaghetti... and why does he not like the spaghetti sauce but he does like the sauce on the pizza?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gwen Faces

Caleb was playing with the camera, and Gwen was happy to pose!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Last night I started a list of things I would like to buy in the US when we are home at Christmas. We've been making a mental list for a few weeks, and I decided I'd better get it on paper so we don't forget. Some of these things must be available here, but either I haven't found them yet, or the ones I have found just aren't the variety we are used to.

Here is the beginning of the list:

chocolate chips
vanilla, and other flavorings for baking
instant pudding
ranch dressing (it's available at City Shop, but is in such high demand they're almost always out of it)
dry onion soup mix
envelopes of taco seasoning
vanilla chai tea bags
contact solution
good smelling mousse
cold cream
stuff to stop Gwen from biting her nails
hair rubber bands for the girls
Scotch tape (the real stuff, not cheap imitations)
colored construction paper

By the Lake

Madelyn and her friend Jalen had fun by the lake here in our complex last week. They found thatif you break them open, cattails have fluff inside that blows in the wind!
Explorers in the jungle on the edge of the water!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving in China

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with our small group from church on Saturday night. I am so very thankful for these people God has given us to connect with here. We had half a dozen families together for our Thanksgivng... thirty of us! With lots of help from the import stores, we were able to have a pretty traditional meal, with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, vegetables, rolls, and three kinds of pie.

One of the guys, Doug, had been in the States the week before Thanksgiving, and he brought back two frozen turkeys in his suitcase! We had a third turkey that the couple who hosted had been given the week before when they moved into their new house. Here is the carving group!

Kids dig in!
Boys check out some video they took of each other.

The younger girls enjoying their dinner!

Kids winding down at the end of the evening after many wild games of chase through the Wong's new big house!
Adults playing "Apples To Apples" after dinner.
Jacelyn and Gwen, full from their dinner and mesmerized by Rapunzel.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Thought

Who could now sustain them but the Spirit of God and His grace?

~William Bradford, of Plymouth Plantation

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Yesterday afternoon I went out shopping by myself for the first time since we have lived here. Yes, I have run to the Chinese grocery store on our corner alone before, but this was different. I actually got myself a gingerbread latte at Starbucks, and strolled around the mall alone. It was so nice!

I browsed in a few large clothing stores, just to see what kind of things are available, and I did see some things I liked. The styles, although western, are a little different here... or maybe I just don't know what's in in the the States! I found some nice black corderoy pants that I thought I would try on... until I started looking for my size. The sizing is completely different, and I kept holding pairs of cords up to see if I was anywhere close to the correct size. I ended up with something like a 155/60A... although I might have that wrong. This size meant nothing to me, but it seemed close to the right size when I held the pants up. I got in the dressing room and pulled them on... but not really. They were WAY to tight. I left the store.

I was telling Scott later about my experience trying to find the right size pants... and we were giggling about the fact that most of the Asian women are so tiny, that shopping here for me is like needing the Big & Tall size!

Bathroom Antics

She's just really talented, this Year of the Monkey girl! How many of you can hang upside down from your bathroom sink?


Check out the name of this one... Lauritzen Bulkers. What does it mean?
Just thought this was a nice shot with the lighting and the reflection on the water.
I love it when we see these big guys!

Princess On Her Throne

Monday, November 19, 2007

Christmas Thoughts

Yesterday I ventured to Walmart in Shanghai for the first time. I had heard from other expats that the Chinese Walmart was somewhat disappointing, so I hadn't bothered to go. But yesterday I was thinking about Christmas tree lights, and Walmart seemed like the logical place to look. I was not disappointed... I guess I would have been disappointed if I had assumed that the Chinese Walmart would be like the ones I have shopped at in the States, but I knew it wouldn't be. There was a small display right inside the front door of a dozen rather paltry looking trees, with gaudy decorations. A huge stuffed Santa greeted us at the door. "Jingle Bells", with Chinese words, played on the loudspeaker. One two-sided shelf contained two different types of tree lights, and some plastic snowflakes. A wall rack had various other tree ornaments, none of which appealed to me. But I was pleased to see the lights, and bought six boxes.

Later, when the boys arrived home from school, I showed Seth the lights. We were excited to learn, just a few days ago, that the school will be selling live potted Christmas trees at the Christmas bazaar this Saturday. We definitely want one! I brought many of our ornaments with us to China, in hopes that we would be able to find a tree here.

But Christmas in Shanghai isn't really the object of our imaginations these days. We are counting the days until we get on the plane for the looong flight to the US, when we will back on familiar streets, hearing voices we understand, and surrounded by people we love. Seth summed up his thoughts about Going Home For Christmas when he said, after seeing the lights I'd bought, "You know what I'm really looking forward to about going home at Christmas? Sitting on the couch in Aunt Jenna and Uncle Andrew's family room, smelling good things to eat."

Doesn't that just sound like family? Anyone who has ever gone away and come home again understands. It's a good thing.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Kite Flying at Century Square

Last Saturday we ventured out to join the many people flying kites at Century Square, just a short drive from our house. We had our new hawk kite ready for her maiden flight. Scott and Seth worked hard to get her in the air, with no small amount of attention and advice from the Chinese people who were there with their own kites.
Madelyn made some pretty good efforts with a phoenix kite.
Kite flying can be frustrating, as can missing your nap.
Hmmm... the phoenix kite doesn't seem to be getting very far off the ground.
So maybe our hawk doesn't fly as some of the other kites, but isn't it cool?
Still trying with the phoenix...
The hawk is coming in for the kill... Look at all the kites in the sky!
This guy was selling roasted sweet potatoes (or "too-tatoes", as Gwen calls them) from the back of his bike. I was sorely tempted.

There were also several kite vendors selling their wares from the back of their bikes. We bought a new string reel from one of them, and line of ten small kites strung together from another. These ten little kites Madelyn and I managed to tangle in about two minutes, with no hope of untangling them again, outside in the breeze. I'll try to get to that task before we go kite flying again!
Seth intent on the hawk's flight.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Blanket and A Tiny Picture

This is the first tiny picture of Gwen!

Last night before bed Gwen chose "The Red Blanket" by Eliza Thomas as her bedtime story. It is the true story of a single mom's journey to adopt her daughter PanPan from China. The red blanket, which she bought for her daughter and took to China with her, was the first point of comfort for PanPan, and becomes an object of great affection for her as she grows up. It is a sweetly told story, with beautiful illustrations. I highly recommend it.
I've read this story to Gwen a number of times. Last night after we finished reading it I tucked the quilt I made for her while we were waiting for her referral around her, and I told her of its similarities to the red blanket in the story. She's heard about this before, but last night I think she made the connection to her adoption a little bit better.
The story also tells of the adoptive mother receiving "a letter with a tiny picture attached" after a long wait. Last night for the first time I told Gwen that we got a letter like that too, with the first picture of her we'd ever seen attached to it. "I want to see it, " she said. Fortunately I was able to get my hands on it pretty quickly, and I brought it into her bedroom where she was waiting on her bed. She was quite interested. I told her that the paper also said her Chinese name, Wang Yu. She said it several times, and asked, "Why they call me that?" I told her that the people who named her (most likely the orphange director) thought it was a pretty name; it means "Little Feather." I went and got Scott so that he could join our conversation. He studied the picture with her, said "Wang Yu" with her, and reminded Gwen about her China sisters, the other 3 girls who were adopted from the same orphanage at the same time as her. We said all their names. She knows who they are; we look at pictures on their blogs often.
There wasn't much more to this little encounter; we kissed Gwen good-night and put away her referral cover page, the one with the "tiny picture attached." It was one more step, though, one more link for Gwen to the miracle of her joining our family. Seems like she's stepped up the pace of figuring all this out.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Last Day

These pictures were taken on the morning of the last day of my dad and mom's visit, in the Chinese garden in our complex. We had such a nice time wandering through the garden together, climbing up the little rock hills, admiring the goldfish in the pond, and taking pictures. Afterwards we walked back home for a lunch of leftovers, then headed out to the airport.

It was such a great visit... as I thought about it, I don't think we have ever had that kind of time together under one roof, nearly 12 days. It was a great combination of some really good things~ sightseeing, relaxing, helping kids with homework, reading, eating out and in, showing them the places we shop, marveling over Chinese driving habits, introducing them to friends, walking the streets around our complex and having good conversations. Thanks, Mom & Day, for making your way to us.

We are so looking forward to this type of visit with many more of our family and friends!

He's Back, Baby

This rather blurry picture of Seth jumping over five benches while wearing roller blades was taken today. His mouth guard was firmly in place between his teeth, but obviously it didn't slow him down. The boys had the day off school and enjoyed several hours at the skate park with friends. I wasn't there, my friend Maribel took them. The boys told me that she limited them to jumping only seven of these benches at a time. Seems like a reasonable request, don't you think?
So Seth came away with all teeth intact today. He only has a swollen knee with a large abrasion on it, and he's only limping a little. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Afternoon Nap

Grandpa and Percy shared the couch one afternoon last week, during my parents' visit.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Figuring Things Out

Gwen has recently been making a few connections about her heritage and about being adopted.

We have a number of adoption themed story books, and she has been requesting them frequently, and seems to identify with the adopted girls in the stories. On several occassions she has asked me if the girl in the story is her.

A couple of weeks ago we were out in a very busy area, lots of Chinese people everywhere. She must have overheard something we said, and was repeating "Chinese, Chinese, Chinese" to herself. I asked her, "Who is Chinese?" She pointed to someone and said, "That guy." I asked her who else was, and she pointed out another person. Then I asked her if she was Chinese, and she said no. I told her that, yes, she is Chinese, and did she remember that Daddy and I came to get her in China? She nodded affirmatively, and then said, "And you're Chinese?"

So we're not quite there, but I think she's starting to understand a little. It's been a long time coming for her, I don't think she has even realized that she looks different from us. Caleb told her recently that her eyes were different from his, and about 30 minutes later she decided that fact was something to cry about. She said she thought he was laughing at her, which really wasn't the case. I'm glad we're surrounded by so many Chinese faces... she is the one who matches the majority. She just happens to be in a family that doesn't, so as a result she stands out anyway.

The girls and I were in Ji-An Park last week, a lovely downtown park that I visitied several times last spring, on my own and also with the boys when we were here on our fact-finding trips. It is filled with retired people in the morning, people are in all the paths and walkways doing all types of dancing and exercises together. It's really a facsinating place. The girls and I enjoyed part of an hour there, it was their first time and they loved to watch all the activity. Of course they were being watched too... they had matching shirts on which made the three of us even more conspicuous than we already were. At one point Gwen said to me, "When we walk by those guys, why they all point at me?" Alas, this is to be her fate. The wonderful thing is, I know that God has equipped her with the strength to handle this issue. I look forward to seeing how her understanding grows and her self confidence grows to match it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Small Loss

I am slowly becoming aware of the fact that culture shock is experienced in layers. We've certainly had some bumpy spots on the road to normalcy as we've adjusted not only to life in China but also to apartment living, an urban rather than a suburban lifestyle.

The other day I realized an aspect of our "old life" that I really miss, something I hadn't thought of before. It's doing errands. I know that seems like a silly one, in light of all that there is that is very, very different, but as I thought about this I actually shed tears.

We can't drive in China. It isn't because they drive on the other side of the road or anything, but simply because it is a different type of driving, an agressive, "playing chicken" type of driving. The firm Scott works for asks us not to drive here. So six days a week we have Mr. Wu to drive us, and he has been great. There is only one of him, and obviously only one vehicle, so we've had to do some compromising on who goes where when, but taxis are plentiful and cheap and I've gotten braver about using them, so that has worked out okay.

But doing errands.... what I miss is going out by myself on a Saturday afternoon to tool around in the car on my own. Stopping where I want to stop. Not having to arrange when I will be picked up when I'm finished, but hopping in the car and then going on to the next place as my need or fancy arises. Mr. Wu is terribly accomadating, and he would certainly run me here and there if I wanted him to, but the fact is that I don't know where Here and There are around here! I know all the basic things, but I miss the little places I used to go in the States.

I guess this is all a blessing in disguise. The fact is that I can't shop like I used to. I wasn't ever a big shopper, but I enjoyed time out browsing at Target or Old Navy. There's no Target here, no Old Navy, at least not that I know about. And I guess that's a Good Thing, at least for now.

View From the Bund

The Bund is an area on the Puxi side of Shanghai comprised of buildings that are of an old European architectural design. They were built in the early 1900's when Westerners were pouring into Shanghai (the Infestation of Foreigners, one museum called this time) and establishing businesses. These historic buildings, which stretch along the riverbank for several city blocks, are now the pride of Shanghai and are beautifully lit up at night. Last week my parents and the girls and I walked along the Bund and peeked into some of the old buildings. We also enjoyed the view across the river to the Pudong side of Shanghai, which is where we live.
After we were finished and ready to head home, we made our way back to the Pudong side by way of the "Bund Tourist Tunnel". We rode in a little futuristic car through a tunnel under the river, through a barrage of lights and music. A bit like 5 minutes in Disney!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Caleb in Yangshuo

Finally I have some photos from Caleb's eighth grade trip. I had to post from his computer since he had loaded them onto it, and it's hard to pry that away from him!

This is the area of the town of Yangshuo where they stayed.

Beautiful scenery everywhere!
Moon Hill... they hiked up to this natural rock archway on the last day of the trip.

Caleb and his friend Brooks get excited about cooking Chinese food.

These unusual rock formations are called karsts.
Can you see Caleb getting ready to repel down this cliff? What a feeling it must be to be leaning back into space!