Thursday, July 31, 2008

Go Jump In The River

Poconos 2008

My girl is poised to jump.What mother in her right mind lets her children jump into a river of questionable depth? Well, the tree was right there, and other kids were doing it...
... but after this move, I drew the line. No flips. No more. None.
Of course then Uncle Shann had to get in on the fun, with his stunt. Seth looked on approvingly.
...and then took a flying leap. I was quite relieved when this activity was over and we floated on our way downriver.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


We're home, and we're tired. Caleb was the first to be in bed, by about 5 o'clock. The other three followed, Madelyn curling up in her clothes on top of the covers, and Gwen falling asleep in the middle of a story. I forced myself to stay up, but after only a couple of hours of sleep on the plane, I am hoping to be in bed before 9 tonight.

It was an amazing month. We got to be with so many people that we love, a wonderful gift. We played on the beach, in the woods, in the river. We stayed up late talking. We had a lot of good food. We drove quite a few miles. As good as it all was, as we finished up our time in the US with a visit in Chicago last weekend, I began to long for home. Our China home.

The distictive China smell hit us in the face the moment we stepped off the plane. But unlike last July's first steps off the plane, this time the smell was familiar, if not homey. We looked at each other and grinned.

So here we are. Yes, the new curtains do look like a museum. It is very muggy and smoggy outside. We're back to a sea of black heads of hair and an unfamiliar language. But now it feels like home.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Multiple Loyalties

Today the kids and I went to visit dear friends in Medina, where we lived several moves ago. As we drove through the town, past several old haunts, we all felt nostalgic for our old hometown. Cries of "Oh, I remember this!", and "I loved that place!", punctuated our drive through the familiar streets. The conversation progressed to the kids discussing how they love all the green in America, how lush it seems everywhere, compared to the "concrete jungle" we live in in China, to use Caleb's words. They talked about wanting to live in the US again. Then Caleb wisely said, "But once we're back in China, with our friends, then we're going to be glad we're there."

As I've written in several previous posts, this month I too have reveled in the green, the blue, the familiar. It's great to be here. But I know my little part of China well enough now to have elements of it that I know I will long for, once we leave there for good someday.

I told the kids this afternoon that I think it's good to love more than one place.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


One afternoon while we were at Sarah's, Gwen seemed to really connect with Juline. Sweet Juline cannot sit up because of the weight of her head, due to the hydrocephalus. Gwen lay down next to her on the bed and talked to her for a long while. This is not generally spitfire Gwen's normal mode of operation, so it was amazing to see. She reveled in Juline's responses. Later, when another foster mom picked Juline up to take her for the week while we were all in the Poconos, Gwen sobbed and sobbed that Juline was leaving. Not sure what that connection was, but it was something special.

Daddy's Gone, Daddy's Home

Scott is back in Shanghai. As I type this just before bed here in the US on Wednesday night, he is back at his office on Thursday morning, trying to jump into the work that awaits him.

While were in the US, the curtains and screens were installed in our place. Scott said the curtains look extremely formal, like a bank or a museum. Hmmm... can't wait to see what they look like. The phone and internet lines were put in also, so Scott will sort out hooking those up before we get back.

The kids and I have five or six more days in the US before we head back. I am excited about spending time with the people we have yet to see, and glad to have more time to soak in all the things I love here, but with Scott back in China, I'm feeling a little antsy. Maybe it's good that he went back a week ahead of us, because it will make it easier for me to leave here.

Youngest Nieces in Black & White

Alyssa Jane, two and a half years old

EmmaClare, almost two years old

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

At the Lake

I grew up within a couple of miles of Lake Erie. We swam at the beach and grilled kielbasi and ate potato salad at the park above it. We vacationed at a lake community of cottages on Lake Erie several summers. When Scott and I were dating, we enjoyed sunsets sitting on the pier, dreaming about our future. Several times we made breakfast together at the beach. Caleb took some of his first unsteady steps along a Lake Erie beach. I've walked with my sweet grandma, who is now nearly 100, along these shores.

This week I've returned to these beaches. Lake Erie may have had a bad rap in the past, but the last two evenings by this body of water in the Midwest have been lovely. The peachy pink sky reflecting in the water... well, a Shanghai sunset just isn't anything like that. My girls paddled around in the lake tonight in lovely, warm, clear water.

I guess we always see places we love through rose colored glasses. Or maybe that was just the color of the clouds as the sun was setting...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Catching the Big One

Poconos 2008

I'm loving the chance for my boys to be boys this week... something about the woods and the river that seems to bring out those basic instincts, reminds them of things about themselves that may have been in hibernation for a while.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Up In The Green

This week I am loving green. And blue. And blue and green. And the river and the trees and the mountains. I'm trying to soak it all in, to save it for when we're back in the big city.

We're in the Pocono mountains this week with my family. We're floating down the river, diving for golf balls, watching skunks and racoons at night, and catching fireflies. We're fishing, splashing, and lazing on the water. We're golfing, toasting marshmallows, hiking to waterfalls. We're talking into the night. We have muddy feet. We're reading (The Shack- if you haven't gotten a copy yet, do.), having cousin squabbles, and blowing bubbles.

It's great to be together. Have I said that already? :-)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Friday, July 11, 2008

Girls in the Surf

Watching Meredyth and Madelyn in the waves in North Carolina last week brought back memories for me of the wonderful fun I had in the ocean with my cousin Tamara when I was growing up. I know you remember it too, Tam. Let's do it again someday!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thursday Night

Loving being at my sister's home here in Pennsylvania this week... driving on the hilly, winding roads past old stone farmhouses and through densely wooded areas; loving the deep blue sky we enjoyed tonight as we ate dinner out on the patio; loving the fresh air... it smelled so good tonight, I couldn't put my finger on what it was, but it was a clean smell. Loving going to Wal-mart and browsing. Loving hanging with Sarah and her kiddos, including sweet Juline, whom Sarah and Shann are caring for this summer while she recovers from surgery to correct her hydrocephalus, before returning to her parents in Haiti. Loving watching our kids interact. Loving working in the kitchen with Sarah, doing dishes with her and talking together while meals are prepared. Loving working in Sarah's yard a little, clipping a branch here, pulling a weed there. I've missed that. Loving fast internet. Loving (gulp!) a little reality TV.

Loving being in America. And thinking of China.

Horsing Around

Seth follows Uncle Justin willingly...
Only to have him turn on him... He is snatched up...

And carried out to sea!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Group Photo

Trying to get in position...
Finally together!


It's so good to be in the US.

We enjoyed several days at our dear friends' home in North Carolina right after we left the beach... time with this clan is never long enough. After leaving there yesterday morning, we arrived at my sister's home in Pennsylvania by dinner time. "Welcome Cousins!" was spelled out on the front sidewalk in colored chalk. Looking forward to spending the next few days here.

It seems like too much almost, to get to be with so many people that I love at once... I wish that somehow I could spread these visits out, to maybe have one each month. Since it's all packed in to this one month, I need to soak it in and store it all away for later, when I can enjoy the memories.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Purse Contents

As I scrounged through my purse this afternoon, I found a mixture of China and the US.

-Currency, of course. Both RMB and USD are in my wallet.
-A receipt from the beach shop earlier this week.
-A slip of paper with the address of a friend in Jinqiao, on MingYue Lu.
-Chewing gum purchased at the Food Lion here on the island.
-A ticket stub from a show Maribel and I took the girls to at the Pearl Tower Theater the week before we both left for the US.
-the non-resident card library card I got to use the computer here in NC.
-the list of ideas for a home school co-op I made at our last meeting in June.
-our membership cards for the pool by our new place in Jinqiao.

It's all mixed together in my purse... and that seems just fine. Pieces of both worlds.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Down By The Sea

I'm sitting in the small public library of a little beach town in North Carolina. We're here this week with Scott's family, enjoying beach and cousin time. We're watching a large tub of crabs and sand on the deck, caught by Caleb this afternoon; we're body surfing, we're enjoying great food cooked by a different couple every night. We're sweeping sand off the floor many times a day, applying sunscreen to each other's backs, doing Pilates together at 11 p.m., and making sausage and french toast for an hour in the morning. We have novels and magazines in random places all over the house, towels and bathing suits on the clothsline and hanging over the deck railing, and laundry going around the clock. We're watching movies curled up on Pa and Nanny's bed, making sand castles decorated with shells, and digging deep holes on the beach for the rising tide to fill. We're playing bocce, frisbee, and baseball on the beach. We're talking and laughing and singing the same songs over and over. We're going through cases of bottled water. We're hanging out in bathing suits all day.

It's great to be together.