Friday, July 31, 2009

Starting Out Toward the End

The girls and I are about to leave my parents' home in Ohio for a week in Pennsylvania. We'll visit in western PA for the weekend, at my aunt and uncle's home in the country, then head to my sister's house in eastern PA on Monday to spend the rest of the week.

Caleb and Seth left this morning for Seattle, where they will meet up with Scott on his way back from China. The three of them will head from there to Canada for a week long wilderness canoe trip in British Columbia with Uncle Justin and his brother, and led by Scott's Uncle Ken, who took Scott on this same canoe trip about 25 years ago. I'm so excited for the guys to have this time together... looking forward to hearing great things about their adventures.

And then after that, well then it will be almost time to go back to Shanghai. Lots to happen between then and now, but when it's all over, we'll be together again.

That will be a Good Thing. :-)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Who knew what a lovely manicure could be done at the beach salon with a gull feather?  Gwen and Alyssa took turns applying their sand nail polish for quite a while last week.
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Monday, July 27, 2009

Summer Supper

-Fresh picked sweet corn
-Steamed green beans, buttered and seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper
-Caprese salad, consisting of sliced garden tomatoes and fresh mozerella, drizzled with olive oil and balsalmic vinegar, with fresh basil leaves and salt and pepper to top it all off.

Yummm. What could be finer?

Wish you had been here to share it with us, Scott. We miss you!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Blue, Green and A Creek

Last Saturday the kids and I joined Pa and Nanny and Uncle Justin and Aunt Mary for a walk in the woods, in the Metroparks area.  It was a beautiful, clear day.  As we walked through the woods I remarked to Mary that I never realized how much I love being in the woods until I was away from it.  The house I grew up in had a backyard that ended in woods, and everywhere we have lived up until Shanghai has had wonderful parks with forested areas that I took full advantage of.  If things were getting crazy in our house, I would take the kids for a walk in the woods.  Sticks provide so much fodder for the imagination... what child doesn't have fun in the woods?  

So anyway, last Saturday's walk was lovely.  It was even better that it ended by the water, with plenty of stones to throw.  Ahhh.  I could have stayed all day.  
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Flying A Little Farther From the Nest

I dropped Caleb and Seth off at the airport today. They were flying alone to San Diego, to visit friends from our first year in Shanghai. Although they've done a fair amount of traveling, it's always been with us. And although they've been away from us on school trips, and just recently been at camp for a couple of weeks, and even taken taxis around Shanghai by themselves, they've never flown alone, without any adult supervision. They had a layover on the way to San Diego, where they'd have to find the next gate on time to make the flight.

So this felt different. But we'd gone over all the details. The boys felt confident. I felt confident. They had a cell phone. They had their boarding passes already printed out. They weren't checking any luggage. They were being met at the airport in San Diego by our friends. And they were together. Everything would be just fine.

When we got to the airport, I pulled up to the curb. They were going to go in alone, without me. So we got their backpacks with skateboards strapped onto the back out of the trunk, then I took a quick picture and gave them each a hug and got back in the car. I didn't look back. I felt good.

Why was it then, that as soon as I pulled away from the curb and breathed a prayer for them, I suddenly burst into tears? I cried hard for about 20 seconds. I imagined them walking into the airport together. I imagined them as blond preschoolers. I prayed some more.

Then I got onto the freeway and headed home. Another step in letting them grow up accomplished for now.

P.S. They called me after the first leg of their trip, when they got to the gate in Las Vegas for their connecting flight to San Diego with 40 minutes to spare. And my friend called me a few hours later to say that her husband and sons had picked up the boys from the airport, and she was busy making them a "Welcome" cake. :-)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Old Friends Together Again

Gwen and Alia~ together again after nearly two and a half years. These two are less than two weeks apart in age, and knew each other long before we had ever laid eyes on them, soul sisters in the orphanage where they lived in China.

Alia's parents brought her to visit us at our house in Chicago before we moved to China, and we hadn't seen them since. (Click here to see pictures of that visit.) We've exchanged Christmas cards and pictures of the girls in the mean time, but the chance for a visit seemed unlikely with us in China. Last week I was so pleased to find that Alia's family lives just minutes from our friends who had picked up Caleb and Seth from summer camp, so when I went to pick the boys up, Gwen and I made the drive to Michigan early and spent the afternoon at Alia's house. What fun the girls had! They were shy for about thirty seconds, and then they were off and running~ they dressed up and put on several shows for us, played on the swings, shared one candy cane back and forth on the hammock, went to the park, and just generally enjoyed each other's company. Neither one wanted the visit to end.

I grabbed my camera just in time to catch the girls walking hand in hand towards the park. So cute. I know most kids this age can have fun with just about any other child, but it really does seem that these girls have a special connection. I'm sad that we've not been able to spend more time with Gwen's three China sisters, but the times we have had have been sweet.
Alia's daddy, Dean, is a big teddy bear of a guy. The girls had such fun with him, running and screaming with laughter when he chased them, and then trying in vain to wrestle him down when they played in the grass.
I got a little cuddle with both the girls right before we left. We loved being with you again, Alia girl!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Food, Family, Fire... Fun

-Combine marshmallows and hotdogs, a silly uncle or two, fire and cousins
-Add some laughs and a couple of songs
-Stir together with some sharpened sticks for roasting
-Pour out on Grandpa and Grandma's patio
-Sit awhile and enjoy the results!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Surf at Sunset

Gwen heads out for an evening swim at Huntington Beach, Lake Erie.
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

He's Still At It

I've loved watching Caleb play in the creek since he was about four years old. He was quick with a net then, and persistent too, trying again and again and again to catch crayfish and little minnows. Seth would follow him, usually carrying a bucket for Caleb to transfer his finds into.

Over the July 4th weekend we spent a long afternoon at a park near where we used to live when the kids were little. It has a nice wide, shallow creek that Caleb and Seth loved to hunt for critters in when they were little guys. When we first arrived there last weekend, Caleb played it cool, sitting with the adults while the younger kids went into the creek. But soon after I mentioned that there were shorts in the car he could change into from his jeans, he made his way down to the creek and the next thing I knew he had procured a net from someone and was hard at the business of catching things in the water.
Gwen and Caden followed Caleb through the creek, marveling at his finds and carefully keeping them for him in an empty juicebox with the top torn off.

In the fall of 2007 I wrote a blog post about Caleb catching little sand crabs on the beach, and how seeing him revel in this activity as a teenager gave me a glimpse of the little boy that still lives inside him. I felt that same way last weekend... he still has some little boy urge to capture a living thing out of the water. He loved it as a preschooler, and he loves it still.

I hope someday I will have the privilege of seeing him take his own hopeful little boy down to the water with a net.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Boost

I've been wearing my glasses the last few days due to a problem with my eye... as a contact lense wearer for the last 25 years, wearing glasses full time is never fun for me. They bother me after just a couple of hours... my ears and nose both feel irritated where the glasses rest on them. Just not feeling up to par when I have them on. And although I have fairly new and updated glasses that I basically like the look of, I just don't love how I look when I have them on. Not my most confident, certainly.

So after my two days of glasses wearing, tonight in her bedtime prayer, Gwen said, "Thank you that Mommy is so pretty and beautiful."

Ahhh. I'll take that any time, but it's especially nice to hear when I've been feeling anything but that.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Scenes from Mackinac Island

Scott and I spent a couple of nights earlier this week on Mackinac Island in Michigan with Rich and Sue Allen, friends who live in Shanghai. We've always wanted to get there since Todd Thomas introduced us to the old movie, "Somewhere in Time", that was filmed there. We thought of you often as we toured the Grand Hotel, Todd!

On the ferry heading to Mackinac... Mackinac Bridge in the background.

The Bay View Inn, the bed and breakfast where we stayed.
View from the second story porch at the Bay View Inn.
The famous porch on the front of the Grand Hotel... longest in the world, at 660 feet!
There are no cars on Mackinac, so horses are the main mode of transportation, along with bicycles. This three horse team pulled a tourist wagon around the island to historic points of interest.

Scott, Sue and Rich in front of just another beautiful home and garden... both seem to abound on Mackinac Island.

Sweet Samuel

Going through pictures with Scott's mom tonight, on her camera, and came across this prize.  I cropped it a bit and played with the color, but I think these big brown eyes on our nephew Samuel speak for themselves.  
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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Family on the Fourth

All of us together~  Our family, Scott's parents, his four sisters and their husbands and children.  Happy 4th of July! 
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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Two Guys

Grandpa and Isaac enjoyed each other's company on the patio earlier this evening.  Doesn't this scene make you smile?

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