Monday, June 29, 2009

Hard At Work

Last week Caleb and Seth spent three days helping my brother scrape, prime and repaint his garage.  The temperature was hovering aroung 90 degrees all three days, so it was a tough job.  I was rejoicing that their character was being built!  But really, how tough can it be to work next to all those flowers?
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Shanghai Laundry

I've posted laundry pictures before, but when my friend Jacqueline forwarded this one that she took to me, I couldn't resist posting it. Somehow the carefully hung red lace panties hanging right out on the street for all to see... it's just so not American culture that it makes me smile. Laundry hangs everywhere on city streets in Shanghai, but this red lace wins the prize, I think!

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Dozen and A Half

If we count the years we dated, then it's two dozen years. But as of today, we have 18 years of marriage behind us. Have they been the hardest years? The years we've changed the most? I know for certain that neither of us are the same kids we were when we got married just weeks after our college graduations. We have four other people we're responsible for now, and one of them is just weeks away from being fifteen. That alone is overwhelming on some days! We've lived in nine different homes, four states, and now a foreign country. We've handled some tough stuff together. I remember it dawning on us not too far into our marriage that being married was harder than it had looked from the outside, in the minds of starry-eyed teenagers. I have to say that it is still hard~ hard work to make it good in the midst of so many other responsibilities that vie for attention. And there are days and weeks when it isn't so good, to be honest, at least not in the "fun" sense of the word good. But the underlying commitment we have to each other makes us know it's good even when it may not feel good for the moment.

Didn't mean to preach a wedding sermon here! Just want to say I've never been sorry that I married this guy. We're far from perfect, we both know that now. But I think we're perfect for each other. :-) Love you, Liklak!

Home Again

We're here. 

The suitcases are unpacked and stored away.  We're enough past our jet lag that we've slept through the night.  We've gotten to hug the necks of our precious family here in Ohio.  The baby nephews are adorable, the girl cousins are taller, and there is a comfortable familiarity about being in our parents' homes and driving the streets we know so well.  The sky is blue, and we wake to the sounds of the birds singing outside the window in the morning.  

So good to be back. 
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Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Summer Drink

Starbucks is Starbucks, even in China. We take full advantage of this fact. Occasionally, however, Starbucks here in China has a few things on their menu that don't seem familiar (aka, American). Take, for instance, the mung bean scone. Something funny about that. Or the barbecued pork scone. I don't think these are on the menu in Seattle or Chicago.

I've thought that most of the drinks seem right, though, until recently. I noticed a poster in Starbucks featuring a new drink for summer. The poster read,

Coffee on Ice
Coffee in the Jelly
Jelly in Your Coffee

Hmmm... coffee and jelly... something isn't working for me here. I can picture coffee with toast and jelly, but not jelly IN my coffee. I read the fine print today and found out that the drink is a Coffee Jelly Frappachino.

I didn't order one. Would you?

Saying Good-Byes Again

We're getting really excited to get on the plane for the US tomorrow afternoon. It's that time of year when the increased humidity and the pollution it holds in has us longing for blue skys and clean air. There's a new nephew in the US that we're so anxious to meet, and another nephew that was just a newborn when we visitied at Christmas who is now a little guy with a huge smile that we can't wait to see in person again. There are cousins to play with and face to face conversations to enjoy with some of the people we love most in the world. There is a camp to attend and a canoeing adventure to take and a garage to paint and road trips and shopping trips and relaxing and fun. Can't wait, can't wait!

However, leaving Shanghai for the summer is bittersweet because there are friends whom we love who will not be here when we return in August. Their time in Shanghai has ended, and so the past few weeks we've been trying to squeeze in lots of time with these families. At one good-bye party we had a couple of weeks ago for two families in our small group, Gwen realized part way through the evening that her friends Ariana and Sarah wouldn't be back next year, and she bawled and bawled. Sarah's mom gathered all the little girls together and told them the wonderful news that although they are leaving, because we all love Jesus we'll be together forever in heaven.

This saying good-bye thing is tough... but now that I'm on the second summer of seeing dear friends leave not to return in the fall, and having moved away from friends several other times in our lives, I have to say I'm not sorry. Not sorry that we've had the opportunity to meet people from many different places. Not sorry that our lives have been enriched by knowing these friends, walking to dinner with them on Sundays after church, sharing great conversations and prayers together on Saturday nights, discussing parenting issues together. The kids have had sleep-overs and played basketball and skateboarded and painted fingernails and jumped on the trampoline and strung beads and watched movies and texted each other and gone to school together and so much more. I'm not sorry that we've had these relatively short relationships where we live close to one another. I know long distance relationships sometimes can't keep going. But some can. And in the end, we who profess Christ as our Savior will share eternity together, and it doesn't get much better than that.

Good-bye, Friends. We love you!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Funny Fishy Costume

This cute two-sided fish was one of the last projects Gwen brought home from this school year. She did so many neat things at school... we still have many of them displayed on the ribbon clothesline in her room. Had to show this one off for her!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Back to the Beginning

Blogger has a feature on it's sign-in page where it notes how many posts you've made. Turns out that I have just passed the one thousand mark. So this is my 1001st post! Since I started this blog while we were waiting for Gwen, in August 2005, I thought it seemed fitting that this first post of the second thousand be of her. I love how these photos turned out... I took them while she was sitting on the curb last Friday a bit before six in the evening, waiting for friends to arrive. In the late afternoon light, it seemed like her lovely golden skin was glowing even more than usual. :-)

We're so thankful that God chose you to be the one that made us Six, Gwenny Girl!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Do You Remember the Feeling?


School is over,
Oh, what fun!
Lessons finished,
Play begun.
Who'll run fastest,
You or I?
Who'll laugh loudest?
Let us try!

By Kate Greenaway

Madelyn copied this poem into her journal on the last day of school. In it's few simple lines, doesn't it capture the joy and freedom of summer for a child? Having finished my tenth year of homeschooling on Thursday, I still feel a bit of that freedom. We celebrated the first official day of summer vacation with homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast yesterday, and they turned out so delicious looking that I had to take a picture of them. :-) They were very yummy!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Few Minutes This Afternoon

It's 3 o'clock-ish, the afternoon of the last day of school. Madelyn and Gwen are playing outside in the rain in their swimsuits. Suddenly the door opens and Gwen runs in, dripping.

"What are you doing?"

"I need to get something."

She heads into the kitchen and takes a teaspoon out of the silverware drawer.

"Why do you need a spoon, Gwen?" I ask, imagining that maybe the girls are playing in the sand pit.

"For a bird."

Hmmm. A spoon for a bird.

I offer her two plastic spoons in exchange for the stainless steel one. She hesitates, then accepts them.

"Why do you need a spoon for a bird?" I ask again.

"It's a dead bird."

Oh. Of course, it's a dead bird.

Wait, it's a DEAD BIRD? Why do we need spoons for a DEAD BIRD? I thought you were playing in the rain in your swimsuit. How did a dead, wet bird join the mix, and why would you need a spoon for this carcass?

I yell out the door to Madelyn. Turns out she wants to put the bird body in the sewer with a spoon. And it was almost a spoon we EAT WITH.

Stay away from dead birds, please. Do not touch them, with or without spoons.

Disaster averted. Playing in the rain in swimsuits continues.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Brothers and Sister, Hanging Around

Yep, this is the kind of thing we do for fun around here. I guess marble door frames are good for something after all.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Caleb Says

"Mom, when I go off to college the best thing you could do for me is..."

Granted, Caleb's departure for college is not imminent, in fact it is several years away. But, his question has me thinking. In the split second before he tells me what this best thing is, what do you think goes through my mind? There are so many truths I could impart to him, so many different prayers I could pray for him, so many last minute bits of wisdom...

" me a toaster."

Ah yes, a man's needs are pretty simple.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Seth Juggles

Seth has enjoyed juggling for a while. He recently met a neighbor who also juggles, and Keith has been teaching Seth some new techniques like tandem juggling and juggling clubs. So fun!

Thursday, June 04, 2009


Gwen found a turkey baster in the utensil drawer in the kitchen this morning and was convinced that I had used it to clean her nose out when she was little. I tried to explain how much smaller the baby nasal aspirator is, but to no avail. She is sure that I used the baster. :-)

Aren't memories funny?

Monday, June 01, 2009

Madelyn at Girl Scout Camp

My Girl Scout didn't need me. That was the best part of our overnight with a couple hundred girls at a ranch (yes, a ranch in Shanghai!) about ninety minutes from here last weekend.

Madelyn has struggled this year with feeling confident on her own, wanting me to stay with her at friends' homes and classes she's attended. We have prayed with her and prayed for her about this issue all year. Slowly, over the past months, she has been growing in confidence.

This past weekend seemed to me like a huge step forward in growth for her. Yes, I was her group leader, and yes, I was in the same cabin as her. But she didn't walk with me or want to sleep in the same room as me. She didn't choose to sit by me at meals. She made new friends. She took risks, like speaking in front of the group and even creating and performing a skit with a small group of girls that they performed in front of several hundred others. She mingled. She wrote poems with the other girls and read them aloud to the group. She walked in the dark back to our cabin with another girl, not me. She tried a cool game where she had to jump in and out of moving bamboo rods in front of lots of other girls. She laughed. She sang silly songs. She participated in relay races. She didn't sit by me on the bamboo raft ride around Monkey Island. And she didn't sit with me on the bus either to or from the camp.

I contemplated this growth with mixed feelings. Of course I love to spend time with her, and it is bittersweet to have her choose to be with someone else over me. But watching her joy and confidence apart from me this weekend was such a joy. I think I grew to appreciate who she is better, seeing her as a whole person apart from me.