Thursday, June 26, 2008

Nearly There

We're almost there. We've done the big jump across the pond, and now we're just waiting for our little hop from Chicago to Cleveland. I am loving the fast internet in the Admirals Club... I can't believe how quickly I can navigate! There is blue sky scattered with puffy clouds outside the window here... ahhh. This is what I was waiting for. :-) But the good stuff, the faces of our family... well, we're nearly there.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

June 22, 1991- June 22, 2008

It might not be profound, but after seventeen years of walking through life together, this song says how I feel. Happy Anniversary, Scott... you're still the only one for me.

You're Still The One

When I first saw you, I saw love.
And the first time you touched me, I felt love.
And after all this time, you're still the one I love.

Looks like we made it
Look how far we've come my baby
We mighta took the long way
We knew we'd get there someday
They said, "I bet they'll never make it"
But just look at us holding on
We're still together still going strong

(You're still the one)
You're still the one I run to
The one that I belong to
You're still the one I want for life
(You're still the one)
You're still the one that I love
The only one I dream of
You're still the one I kiss good night

Ain't nothin' better
We beat the odds together
I'm glad we didn't listen
Look at what we would be missin'
They said, "I bet they'll never make it"
But just look at us holding on
We're still together still going strong

(You're still the one)
You're still the one I run to
The one that I belong to
You're still the one I want for life
(You're still the one)
You're still the one that I love
The only one I dream of
You're still the one I kiss good night
(You're still the one)
You're still the one I run to
The one that I belong to
You're still the one I want for life

(You're still the one)
You're still the one that I love
The only one I dream of
You're still the one I kiss good night
I'm so glad we've made it
Look how far we've come, my baby.

By Shania Twain

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday Night Thoughts From Shanghai

For all intents and purposes we are finally unpacked from the move. I use the word "we" loosely, as it was mostly me that did the unpacking, with a little help here and there. That's fine with me, really, since I like to be the one to put things in the places that I choose.

We are still waiting for a table and chairs to be delivered~ rental housing in Shanghai generally comes furnished, and as this place is new we are still waiting for some of the furnishings to arrive. We are also still waiting for window treatments. We have nothing on any window in the house, save for the light blocking plastic we have taped over the windows in our bedroom for a little privacy. We're hoping drapes will come this week... the landlord did allow me to choose the textiles, although the style of the curtains is up to her, so I'm anxious to see what we end up with!

In the mean time we've stood at the kitchen island or sat around our card table for meals, which happens to also be doubling as a computer desk right now because we don't have wiring for phone or internet yet and so we are having to use a wireless card, which works only next to the window due to the thick marble construction of this place. I am rambling here, I know. But the challenges of living without any real internet connection to speak of, along with no cell phone reception in the house and no land line phone have made me a little frustrated this week. I have pictures I want to post, but I can't seem to get them to you.

At Christmas I was SO anxious to get to the US because of the bad Christmas decorating in Shanghai. It just wasn't the same here, no matter how western they tried to be. Now that our summer US trip is upon us, I am looking forward to fast internet. That and blue sky. Not just the occasional peek through the clouds we get here, but real Carolina blue sky. Ahhh.

Funny. In my last post I was willing my children to soak up China. I still want them to. I do. I can honestly say that I love Shanghai. It's in my blood now. But as much as it's home, it's not my real home. The spiritual parallels are all over this, aren't they? :-)

My dearest friend here is leaving on Thursday, the same day we are leaving. But she isn't coming back for the next school year. We had all hoped the Hillmer family would have a second year here, but for some reason they had only one. Because we are leaving for our summer US trip at the same time they are leaving Shanghai permanently, I don't think the reality of the loss will really hit me until we return in August. I haven't been the one Left Behind for a while, although I have been left before, a number of times. Long ago Bill and Rebecca left us, just days before Caleb was born; Sara and Steve left us for NYC a few years later, and not quite as long ago Kris left me for Texas... being the one left is harder than being the one leaving. The one leaving has something new to go to, an adventure, a new life. The one left behind has only what they already had to continue in, but now missing someone important. Both leaving and being left provide opportunities for new friendships to develop... I know this. I have left others behind in various moves. I'm ready for new friendships in the fall. The great thing is that true friends are never lost...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sponges, I Hope

As we were all riding our bikes through the streets of a local area yesterday, I found myself silently willing first Gwen, then all the children, to "soak up China." I often wonder how much of this whole China experience each of them will carry with them through their lives... I hope they are absorbing much that will become a part of who they are.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Our "Bank''

I am posting from Maribel's house, as it seems with the current internet situation at our place, pictures aren't making their way through. So, here's our new place, the first floor of this "bank"... I know it's a little cold looking from the outside, but we are very glad to be here. More pictures the inside as soon as everything is put away!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Our New House

I am really trying to post a picture of our new place... but our internet issues here have been challenging.

In the mean time, we are settling in. The work of moving always surprises me... don't I remember what it's like to have to find new homes for six people's stuff?! We actually have most things put away now, a week later, save for a few boxes of books that we have no shelf space for, and some random items that I need to get creative to find homes for.

The boys loved their extra hour of sleep before school this week with our close proximity to Concordia... the entrance to our compound is directly across the street from the entrance to the school. School ended yesterday, so it was only four days of this bliss, but we will all enjoy it in the fall. The girls have found friends in the neigborhood, and I have enjoyed chatting with other Concordia moms who live just houses away from us. Scott's commute is longer by a bit... he is experimenting with an earlier start time to help avoid some traffic. Church is around the corner, we walked there in five minutes last Sunday.

I've told a few people that living here in the Jinqiao area of Shanghai is kind of like small town America... why did we have to come to China to find it?!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Gwen, about M&Ms...

"Can I have the muchest more?"

Friday, June 06, 2008

New Link

I've just added a new link in my sidebar, The Gift of Change. My friend Tracy is setting off on an adventure with her family, moving to the opposite side of the country, in just a few days. God has blessed her with amazing perspective as she processes this life change... Tracy has wonderful insight on many things in every day life, and now even more so. I told her recently that I need to talk to her frequently so she can help me interpret my life! I think you will enjoy her thoughts.

Moving Day

We're moving today. The girls have just stripped their beds and are taking all the posters and pictures off the wall next to Madelyn's bed. This move isn't nearly as big a deal as last summer's, but I still have been trying to purge and sort and give away. Amazing how quickly "stuff" accumulates... didn't I just do this?! We are moving to the first floor of a three story house, with an apartment on each floor. It is in a compound directly across the street from the boys' school, and around the corner from our church. We are really looking forward to being more a part of the community by being there, but it's not without some sadness that we leave our apartment in the sky, with the amazing river view, the boats, the city lights... it's been a wonderful place to spend our first year in Shanghai.
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Thursday, June 05, 2008

With Grandpa by the Water

Alyssa and my dad by the shore of Lake Erie. Don't you love it?
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Monday, June 02, 2008

Images of Hope House

Hope House was founded about five years ago by a couple who decided they wanted to make a difference for orphans in China. They took their life savings to open this place where abandoned babies with medical needs can have the surgeries they need arranged for and receive the follow up care required.

I took nearly 100 pictures at Hope House on Saturday and Sunday. Here are a few...

This is Stacia, one of the younger girls that came along on the trip with us. I took this just as we were leaving on Sunday. Stacia peeked back into one of the rooms from outside, and these two cute faces scrambled to see her.

A sleeping angel...
These twin girls are about 7 months old. Most all of the children at Hope House are there because of a special medical need that their original orphanage was unable to handle. These twins are perfectly healthy, but were sent to Hope House because they were premature. Here they are with their nanny, but we all enjoyed cuddling them.
Hope House is a beautiful facility. Clean wood floors, lots of light, handmade quilts on the beds, very low ratio of babies to caregivers. Quite a contrast from the social welfare institute where Gwen lived. I expected to feel so happy for the children that live a Hope, and indeed it is a wonderful, caring environment. But in the end, it just looks nice. The children are still orphans, no matter how nice their surroundings. The great thing about Hope is that nearly all of the children there will eventually be placed in families. But for now, they wait.

Pictured on the wall are small framed photos of the children who have lived or currently live at Hope House.
A nanny reaches down to feed a waiting mouth in the baby room.
Toddlers being fed in the lunchroom.
This photo of me with these two little guys shows the Hope House facility in the background.

Jennifer, one of the gals in our group, cuddles a sweetie.

We really enjoyed taking a small group of little ones out to the playground (playgrounds are unheard of at many Chinese orphanages... Gwen's had only an empty cement courtyard for outdoor play). I think we may have had more fun than they did! Here Sue gives this cutie a push. The large framed picture tells the story of a man who encounters a small boy on the beach, throwing starfish stranded on the sand back into the surf. As the man surveyed the expanse of sand covered with hundreds of starfish, he asked the boy why he was even bothering when there was no way he could save them all. "I know I can't", the boy answered as he tossed the one he was holding out into the water. "But I've made all the difference to this one."

So it is with orphan care.

Me with one of the twins. Don't you just want to kiss those cheeks?!
I loved how this bath area had a baby's picture next to each wash cloth, and a cup and toothbrush for each one.
Some of our group interacting with the babies, while the nannies look on.
I loved this little guy's sweet face! Strollers waiting for riders and pushers!

Books For Babies

Check out the results of our scrapbooking weekend at the orphanage in Beijing. We completed 44 books! We stayed in the orphanage, Hope Healing Home, in an apartment on the second floor. We were able to go play with the babies, hold them, take them outside, etc. It was an amazing experience... I have lots of photos and more to say about it all, but will have to save all that for another post.

This photo is our group, right before we left, with all the books we completed. Several of the books we finished are for little ones who are going to be placed with their forever families in the next month or so! Here are a few of the beautiful children at Hope Healing Home for whom we created photo books.