Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rain and Grandparents in Shanghai

My parents are here! After a false start, my parents arrived six days after they were initially supposed to, and we are so happy to be together.

Unfortunately the weather isn't much fun for sightseeing right now, with day after day of rain, but we managed to grab a few dry hours today to get in a walk through the Old Town area of Shanghai. Very local housing, old style, narrow alleys, tiny doorways, laundry hanging overhead, dripping down on us as we walked. Lots of street food... we were adventurous and tried a number of different dishes~ fried dumplings, a noodle dish, various fried breads, and some chestnuts. It is always a scene to be a westerner in a place like that, where we so obviously don't "fit". We laughed about just smiling and waving, as if we are celebrities. Everyone stares mercilessly, but with friendly, open faces.

We ended up in Yuyuan, one of my favorite places, to see the beautiful display of plum blossoms in the garden. I didn't have my camera with me today...

but I found this picture I took last year of the plum blossoms in Yu Garden. The sky wasn't so blue today, but the blossoms were just as beautiful. Most are growing in small bonsai type form; short, thick, ancient looking trunks with beautiful delicate flowers, growing in impossibly small, shallow pots.

Later this week we will all be taking in Seth's performance in the middle school drama production. I have to be at school with him tomorrow morning at 7 a.m., to help with make-up application for the 95 middle schoolers in the play. They are doing a practice performance for the rest of the middle school tomorrow during the school day. Pictures to come!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Squatty Potty

I was cleaning out photo files and found this picture of a typical public Chinese toilet that Sarah took when she and Brad were visiting last fall. Note the lack of a door on the stall. If you've been to China before, perhaps this will remind you of your trip with fondness! If you haven't, I'm sure it will make you want speed your coming.

I will note that there are many, many western style public toilets in China, for the faint of heart. But you've got to try this kind at least once, for the mind broadening experience that it is!
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

...and Gwen, Airborne!

Gwen has become a jump rope queen of late. She practices quite a bit during outside play time at school, I think, and can jump well past thirty jumps in a row when jumping with a long rope (two other people holding the ends). On her own, holding the rope herself like this, she can only do a couple jumps in a row without hesitating, but she is sure working hard on doing more. Good thing there is no carpeting in our house... she practices everywhere."Gwen, it's time to head back to your room to get ready for bed."

"Okay, Mom, but can I jump rope on the way there?"

Monday, February 16, 2009

Madelyn, Airborne!

The moms all agreed we wish a trampolining class was offered for adults... but then we remembered we probably couldn't make it through without wetting our pants anyway. :-)
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Pictures Taken From A Moving Vehicle In Bali

How's that for a title?!

These little alters with umbrellas covering them were everywhere... always with little square baskets of food stacked in them. We saw these small baskets of food (a sacrifice?) outside shops, on the floor at the entrace to the airport lounge... really everywhere we went. Bali is mostly Hindu.
We saw these little shelves of oil all along the road. We weren't sure what it was... cooking oil? Maybe a drink of some kind? We found out that it is fuel for motorbikes. You pay for the fuel, pour it into your tank (one of these bottles fills a motorbike tank) and put the empty bottle back on the shelf. This picture was actually not taken from a moving vehicle, however it was taken from a vehicle. Caleb snapped this shot of us at a roadside fruit stand. Cows were roaming in the weeds on the side of the road opposite the fruit stand. Cows by the side of the road were a frequent sight.
Balinese women are very talented at carrying things on their heads.
Just a few guys piled in the back of a truck.
There are many, many motorcycles and motor scooters in Bali. Unlike Shanghai, there is not a separate lane to accomodate them, and they are constantly weaving in and around the already crazy traffic. Fortunately they seem much better about wearing helmets, which are almost never seen on a local in Shanghai. Too bad this little girl didn't have one... she looks like she might fall asleep on her feet! Big yawn!
Mr. Wu is forever telling us how Shanghainese "very like" KFC... I guess it's popular in Indonesia, too. This was a pretty large establishment.

We thought maybe this was a temple, but we were told it was a monument. A monument to what wasn't clear. Many of the temples we did pass had this same type of intricate design.

Friday, February 13, 2009

He's Ours!

Isaac Robert came home yesterday.... our newest nephew, adopted by my brother and sister-in-law. The miracle that is adoption never fails to completely slay me emotionally... God is so good, He's so good, He's so good.

Welcome home, Isaac. We love you so very much.

*For more of Isaac's story, check out "Pre-Loved" in my sidebar.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hangin' Out At Seeds Of Hope

Here are a few more photos from our time at Seeds of Hope Children's Home. Seeing these pictures makes me hope for a return visit to be with the children again. They sure made their way into our hearts quickly!
Caleb and a new friend shoot in tandem.These four girls worked for more than an hour creating this little scene from play-doh, even adding bits of cotton as snow on the roof and tiny tree. They were pretty pleased with the results! It was so interesting to see even older kids be so interested in the craft supplies we brought... Thumb wrestling match with Scott... so fun!
More play-doh creations...
Preparing the afternoon snack
See Gwenny in the middle of the group? She almost blends right in! Her skin was actually a few shades lighter than the local kids.
Showing some little ones how to make a paper lantern. Sandra, the mother of the home, is in the background.
Madelyn and friends creating things out of colored paper.
At first just one girl and I were doodling a bit with the colored chalk, but soon our doodle grew into a big, rainbow heart that this whole group wanted to be a part of adding to. This was right before we left on our last day at Seeds of Hope. I was not looking forward to saying good-bye to the kids... part of the reason this heart got so big! Maybe if we add one more color around the outside, I can stay a little longer...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

At Yuyuan for Spring Festival

Although Spring Festival (aka Chinese New Year) ended Monday night with the Lantern Festival, the beautiful decorations at Yuyuan will stay up for another week or so. Madelyn and I went to see them Tuesday afternoon, and they did not disappoint! Lanterns, lanterns everywhere... I've been told it is quite beautiful at night when they are all lit up! Have to see that one of these years.

Enjoying my soup dumpling (you drink the broth out of the inside with a straw before cutting or biting it open to eat the meat) with a friendly ox looking on!

You know it is the Year of the Ox... but did you know that dumplings are boiled with an entire ox skull, complete with horns, right in the broth? Check this picture out! I saw this at several dumpling stands, and I think it is a real ox head... but I can't be sure. Makes me wonder... surely there weren't rats in the broth last year!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Lunch by the Beach

Have you seen the movie Mr. Bean's Holiday? Here is Caleb's impression of Mr. Bean eating his seafood lunch.
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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Long Awaited Gift, Julie

This past week Madelyn's nine year birthday gift finally arrived. This poor doll languished in the Shanghai customs office for more than three weeks before she finally made it to us! We joked that maybe the customs officers were playing with her, but she arrived in mint condition, with only the outer box having been opened. Madelyn and I were SO happy to finally have her here! We had a fun afternoon introducing Julie to Madelyn's other doll, Nellie, and dressing them and fixing their hair.

"Julie, meet Nellie."
Madelyn and Julie, both wearing two ponytails.
Back to schoolwork, with Julie and Nellie watching! Nellie and Julie, all ready for bed!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Say Again, Please?

This little sign was posted at the registers in a small grocery store in a shopping area near our hotel in Bali. We were a bit baffled by it at first, but after going through the check out line to purchase a few items, we soon found out what it meant. The currency in Indonesia is rupiah, and it is incredibly inflated. One US dollar is equal to between 10,500 and 11,00 rupiah, depending on what currency you are exchanging for it and where. This makes figuring out how much something is really worth tricky for math challenged people like me! The price tag says 295,000... let's see, how much is that, really?

Since the rupiah is so worthless, I guess it makes it difficult to make small change. So if the amount of change due back to a customer is of a certain small amount or less, the customer is given candy instead of money! This is what the sign means, and we experienced it on several occassions, in different stores. Twice it was a wafer cookie type candy bar, and another time our change was a couple of pieces of hard candy.

Like my mom always says, it's interesting to see how different cultures solve life's universal issues. :-)

Seth's Juggling Lessons

One of the afternoons we were at Seeds of Hope, Seth passed out tennis balls and gave an informal juggling demo and lesson to some of the boys. It seemed to be a big hit! Bringing the balls had been Seth's idea... so glad he thought of it. This picture shows the outside space the kids have to play in... Having one's tongue out seems to be key to proper juggling technique!