Sunday, December 28, 2008

We're Here, For Now

... in the US, enjoying our other life for a few more days. Loving cousin time and game time. A bit of "regular" shopping, meeting our darling new nephew, visiting with aunts and uncles we haven't seen for a long time. Harlem Globe Trotters and cross country skiing. Celebrating Seth's 12th birthday several times. Eating and laughing together. Fighting colds and playing ping pong and pinochle. Watching Anne of Green Gables and Man Versus Wild. Taking pictures, but not posting them.

Just three days left.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Carrefour Christmas Thoughts

Silent Night, Holy Night

I rode my bike to Carrefour late this morning, after our family Christmas celebration, to pick up a few things for our lunch. We're heading to the airport late this afternoon, to fly to the US for a couple of weeks with our families.

All is calm, all is bright

I rode the escalator ramp up to the store, feeling a sudden fondness for the place that had so frustrated and befuddled me when we first arrived in Shanghai. Now, after a year and half in China, I know Carrefour. I know where to find what I need.

'Round yon virigin, mother and child

I walked through the main displays at the front of the store, all colors and styles of long underwear at this time of year. I looked into the shoppers faces, all framed with straight black hair. I no longer feel out of place among them.

Holy infant so tender and mild

I made my way to the produce department and picked out some cucumbers, carrots, apples and fresh pineapple to supplement the leftovers in the fridge that we will eat for lunch. As I picked out my fruits and vegetables, I realized the song on the public address system in the store was very familiar.

Christ the Savior is born

Maybe it's the fact that we just watched "Nativity Story" last night. Maybe it's that we are about to go back to all that is safe and familiar, so many of the people that love us. Maybe it's that this particular song was playing in a Chinese grocery store, proclaiming the Truth of Christmas. But as I had my produce weighed and walked to the check-out line, I had tears in my eyes.

Christ the Savior is born.

I left the store and found my bike, amid the hundreds of other bicycles lined up outside Carrefour. As I got on my bike and turned toward home, I passed the fresh flower vendors outside the store, whose faces are now familiar. I rode by the cart where they sell hot chestnuts and the people with DVDs spread on blankets on the sidewalk.

Christ the Savior is born. Not just for me, for my family, for Americans. Christ was born to save us all~ red and yellow, black and white. And His name is proclaimed in the Carrefour in Jinqiao, my little community in Pudong, Shanghai.

Somehow this fact makes me love the people in Carrefour this morning more... and be more even more amazed at the love our Saviour has for us.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's Almost Christmas!

Gwen, Christmas 2008
Shanghai, China
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Leaving for the States in 3 Days

Says my fourteen year old boy this evening, "I can't wait to go to America."

"What are you looking forward to the most?" I ask, expecting him to say televised sports, or the mall, or fast internet, or some other teenager-ish thing.

His response: "Oh, I don't know... just like hanging out at Nannie and Pa's and Grandma and Grandpa's".

He said that, he really did. And I am smiling, and I think his grandparents are too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cat Dental Hygiene

While she was here, Aunt Sarah took this picture of Madelyn brushing Percy's teeth... not a practice we usually follow in our house. Not sure what possessed her on that particular night, but she reassured Sarah, "Don't worry, I'm using a guest toothbrush."

Very reassuring to the guest. :-)
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Two Together

Another favorite photo from Brad and Sarah's visit... Uncle Brad and Madelyn hanging out in this traditional Chinese doorway in Yuyuan.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dessert Options

Black Sesame Cream
White Fungus with Chinese Herbs

I chose the Black Sesame Cream, thinking it sounded slightly more appetizing than fungus. It was a thickish soup-like consistency, just the tiniest bit sweet, and appeared to be made of ground sesame seeds, black in color. It was served warm, in a small, straight sided bowl with a lid. I consumed it fairly quickly, and it was Not So Bad.

But it certainly wouldn't be considered dessert where I come from.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gotcha 2008~ Daddy and Gwen

This morning Gwen and Daddy looked at pictures from our first Gotcha Day, three years ago!

Daddy and his girl... can't imagine life without her!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gotcha Days... Number Four and Counting!

Today is the third anniversary of the day we met Gwen, December 12, 2005. Our fourth Gotcha Day celebration!

Here is a familiar picture, the first one we took of her, at the Civil Affairs office in Chengdu. These two photos were taken on the first Gotcha Day anniversary, December 12, 2006. And these two are last year, December 12, 2007. She is wearing the same outfit as the year before!
Gwen and Madelyn look out our 48th floor window on the Huangpu River and Shanghai! Next post... this year's Gotcha Day pictures!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Gwen's Morning Face

While Brad and Sarah were with us, Sarah took this picture of Gwen smiling out at us through her school van window... the house next door is reflected off the outside. I really like the effect!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 08, 2008

December 8, 2005

Three years ago today, we were leaving for the adventure of a lifetime...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Her Synopsis

Madelyn wrote this little piece last week after Brad and Sarah left. I've added a couple photos to illustrate the favorites she mentions in it!

My aunt and uncle were here for eight days. We did lots of things with them. We went to Yuyuan Garden, Beijing, an acrobat show, and lots of other stuff. One of my favorite things was going on the rickshaw. I think Aunt Sarah's favorite thing was when we ate hot pot. I think Uncle Brad's favorite thing was climbing the Great Wall. I hope they'll come next year. ~By Madelyn

Rickshaw ride in the hutong area of Beijing.
Dinner at Hot Pot Paradise

Hot pot is a traditional Chinese meal, kind of like fondue. Each person has their own pot of boiling broth in which to cook a variety of vegetables, noodles, and thinnly sliced meats. As each different ingredient is done, you take it out of the broth and eat it with one of several dipping sauces. We went to Hot Pot Paradise in Beijing. Madelyn loved cooking all the different foods, and kept offering us portions of the things she cooked. We found out later that she actually ate almost nothing, but just enjoyed the cooking experience!

Loving the experience of being at the Great Wall!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Afternoon in Yu Garden

Tuesay was a beautiful fall day in Yuyuan Garden... Brad, Sarah, Madelyn and I lingered there a long while, enjoying the sunshine, bright fall colors, and Chinese architecture. I love this place!
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Seth Sings

I have never posted a video before, but I am trying now because I am so amazed by my boy. Seth had a short solo in the Concordia Christmas choir concert last night, and he blew me away! I had never heard him sing it before, so it was doubly special to hear him do it on stage for the first time. The words barely registered in my brain... just the sound of his sweet, clear voice brought tears to my eyes. Aunt Sarah videoed him on her digital camera, and she and Madelyn and I listened to it over and over again today! The song is "Believe", from the movie Polar Express.

Nannie, you would have been so proud. You and I have a weakness for singing Liptak guys, don't we?!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Mao's New Advisors

Brad and Sarah have decided to answer the call of the Party. Or at least they posed with the guards outside Tian'anmen Gate.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 01, 2008

Olympic Park

We managed to squeeze in a walk through Olympic Park on our way to the airport as we were leaving Beijing on Saturday morning... the eight of us and about five hundred Chinese people were happily exploring the grounds well before 9 o'clock in the morning!

We all loved these little light posts around Olympic Park, which look like minature Bird's Nests!
The area around the Water Cube has some neat sculptures... this picture is notable, though, because it shows that Caleb is officially taller than me, after threatening to be for quite some time!