Monday, August 31, 2009

Look What Was In The Stew Tonight...

Free delivery for many different services is commonplace here. Drycleaning, restaurants, even groceries can be delivered for free. Seems like a great idea... most of the time.

Last week I took advantage of a local import grocery store's email ordering and free delivery. Among other things, I ordered several sweet potatoes. I have ordered sweet potatoes from this store before, so I know they carry them, and I entered the product code for them when I placed my order. When the order came later that day, I noticed that the sweet potatoes seemed a little small, but I thought nothing of it until I peeled and began cubing them today and found this:
Well, I don't know if I've been missing something, but I hadn't seen these before. They certainly weren't the deep orange color I was expecting. I had heard of purple potatoes... but I guess I'd never really seen one. Is this a purple potato? After the bright color was revealed, I went back to the price sticker on the plastic bag the potatoes came in to see what they were called. There was a Chinese name, in characters, and then underneath it said, "Tianmuzishu." Is there another name for this tuberous veggie? And have you cooked with it?

I just tossed the purple contents of my cutting board into the crockpot with the other veggies and beef that were to form our stew for dinner tonight. By the time we had dinner, the purple had blended in with everything else and had no distinctive flavor. So, no harm done. I'll have to try the remaining two tianmuzishus on their own and let you know what they are like!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Flying Through The Trees!

We had a very fun couple of hours with our friends the Bob and Beth and their children one weekend afternoon in July. Bob was in the process of building a treehouse/zipline platform in the woods on their property, and the kids took full advantage of the zipline. I'll admit to even trying it myself! I love how the background is blurred in the picture of Madelyn below... it shows how fast she was flying!
These pictures are compliments of Seth. Nice camera work, man!

Renee joined Beth and I that same afternoon for a bit of a visit. It was such a treat to be with these two friends. I'm sad that we didn't get in more friend visits this summer... it's amazing how the time flies. Those of you that I didn't get to spend any face-to-face time with, please know that I wish I could have!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dress-Up Day

A couple of photos from the girls' dress-up day last week with their friends. So fun to be fancy!

Monday, August 24, 2009

EC is Three!

Happy Birthday, Emma Clare! It was so very fun to spend time with you this summer... you are such a big girl now.

I loved how you would tell me, "Good job" when I did something for you, or say, "It's okay" in a comforting way as you shrugged your shoulders.

It seems fitting that this picture of you happens to be when you were hanging upside down on your swing, because you love to swing! "Push me on my swing?" is one of your frequent requests.

Once as I was trying to sneak into the house just for a moment, for a drink of water or something, leaving you on your swing, you called after me.
"Aunt Lynne!"
"Yes, Emma Clare?"
"I like you!"
"I like you too, Emma Clare."
"Aunt Lynne!"
"Yes, Emma Clare?"
"I love you!"
"I love you, too, Emma Clare."

Happy, happy birthday. I love you too, Emma Clare!

First Day of School, 2009

Today was the first school day of the year for all four of the kids. The boys barely paused for me to get a picture... then I took one of each of them as they rode off to school on their bikes!

Gwen is posing here with her bus moniter, the same one she had last year. Interestingly, China is still on high alert for swine flu, and Gwen's school protects against this by requiring parents to take their child's temperature each morning and show it to the bus monitor before they are allowed on the bus!

Here is Madelyn, posing by the flowers on our front steps, ready to go get started on the day. She and I are doing some things differently this year and I think over all the day went well. After a summer of fun, being busy with cousins and having lots of people around, it was really nice to spend the day yesterday just with her.

Friday, August 21, 2009

In the Meadow

The day we spent at the barn with my cousin Tamara, I took each of the girls into this field of Queen Anne's lace next to it to take a few pictures. I love how they turned out!
This one of Gwen reminds me of the scene at the end of every episode of "Little House on the Prairie." Can't you hear the theme music playing?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Worth of a Soul

The other day I was in the car with Mr. Wu, and we pulled up beside a pick-up truck with a load of what looked like large sheets of plywood stacked in the back of it. There were two men standing up in the open back of the truck, holding on to the wood. I pointed this out to Mr. Wu as an unsafe situation, especially as we were traveling on a busy, six lane road at a fairly high speed. Mr. Wu's comment was, "Maybe people cheap, wood expensive."

I was dumbfounded. I said nothing. Since then I have thought of many things I could have said. For starters, "No, that's not true."

Psalm 139 comes to mind this morning.

For You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Just For Fun

We're Back, Baby

I've gotten my hair cut. Made chicken soup with rice, whole wheat bread, and fresh peach ice cream. Had a group of little girls over for an afternoon of fixing hair, dressing up, and watching "Little House on the Prairie." Spent a couple of afternoons at the pool. Emptied nine large pieces of luggage. Worn a bright yellow t-shirt with the words "ASK ME, I CAN HELP" at new student orientation at Concordia. Walked to church and had dinner with small group friends afterwords. Had a foot massage. Loved up the affection starved kitties. Caught up with my neighbors. Taken Seth to the orthodontist. Sorted through my home school stuff. Planted new flowers in the pots on the front steps. Tried to reorient myself to the s-l-o-w internet in China.

We're back. It feels like home.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Last Night in the US

Cousins Maggi and Gwen, enjoying their last moments together.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Here I Sit

Waiting in the Chicago airport to head back to our other life.

I consider other trips where I've been waiting in this very same lounge to go back to Shanghai, probably with different feelings about whether going to China is leaving home or heading home. This time I feel like I am going home... and it feels good.

I consider my reaction to seeing the Chicago skyline in the hazy early morning light as we landed this morning... why did I tear up at the sight of it? We only lived there three years... but we may again, sometime in the future. I love Chicago. I love people that live here. The Chicago airport has special meaning for me, because it's always our entry point into the US when we return from China.

I think about the people we've left behind in Northeast Ohio. Our family. It was wonderful to have so much time with them this summer, time that wasn't rushed because we knew we were there for a while. Hang out time. So good. Really, really good.

I think about all we have ahead of us in Shanghai. With back-to-school orientation and events starting next week, and school the following week, we'll be jumping right back in. I'm excited to see our friends that will re-gather in Jinqiao from their scattered summer travels. We'll all settle back into our China life... for as long as it lasts, with every family's timetable a little different. There will be missing faces, gone from Shanghai permanently, who we will track down on Facebook, and new faces, joining the China life for the first time. New friends to meet. Who are they? I can't wait to find out.

I'm feeling how little sleep I had last night... only four hours, since I got up at 3:15 AM to get everyone out the door by 4 AM. My boys had the bright idea that staying up all night last night would help them get over jet lag more quickly than sleeping only half the night, so apparently that's what they did. The foolishness of youth, I say.

Now I will go have a muffin and wait a little longer. Then mid-morning we board the plane, and after meals and movies and napping and reading for several hours more than a dozen, we'll get off the plane, breathe deeply of the distinctive China smell, wait in line to go through immigration, wrestle our nine large pieces of luggage onto carts, go through customs to face a sea of Chinese faces... and on the other side Scott will be waiting! And Mr. Wu, or course.

Can't wait. :-)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blogging Slowly

I haven't kept up with blogging recently.  It's not because I've stayed away from my computer, though.  Actually I've been spending quite a bit of time on old blog posts... trying to create a hard copy of past posts for myself.  There is a nifty program called Blurb that has free software (BookSmart) for creating books of many kinds, including books from blogs.  I decided to begin with my first post about us moving to China, and go through our first year there.  Well, apparently I was a bit too prolific in my posting, because I am at nearly 200 pages in the book and only through November of the first year!  Yikes.  Anyway, that's what I've been up to.

In other news, my guys are back to civilization after a week long canoe trip in the Canadian wilderness.  They had an awesome time, and I am as anxious to see their photos as I am anxious to see their faces!  The boys will be back to me tonight, while Scott will head directly back to Shanghai.  We'll all be together again on Friday afternoon, when Scott meets the kids and I when we land at Pudong airport.  Can't wait!  It's been a month since Scott and I were together and I'll say it now-  What were we thinking?  A month is way too long!

Lastly, here's a photo from our visit with my sister and her family last week.  We went into Philadelphia and hit a few historic hot spots, including the Liberty Bell.  I'll be posting a few more pictures from that visit in the next day or two.  
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Haircut in Aunt Sarah's Kitchen

You may remember that Gwen got a very short, pixie style haircut the fall after we moved to China.  We've been growing it out since then, and although it is still pretty fine and not very thick, it had gotten quite long.  In January this year I started working on growing out some of her bangs, which I had zealously cut too far back into the rest of her hair.  By summer they had grown to the length to fit into ponytails and braids without an extra clip, so about chin length. I really was hoping to trim up the rest of her hair to meet those pieces, but she was loving her long hair.  This week, out of the blue, she announced that she wanted her hair cut like Madelyn's.  After giving her a day to think about it, I jumped at the chance to cut it and hopefully let it thicken up a little.  Aunt Sarah's kitchen became the beauty salon, with Caden looking on.  
The new haircut is nice and neat, and looks SO cute on her!  I love that it makes her look younger.  

Sunday, August 02, 2009

At the Barn with Tamara

The girls and I are in western PA this weekend, enjoying time with my aunt and uncle and my cousin Tamara, who is my second sister. Yesterday we went out to the barn where Tamara's horse, whom she got as a twelve year old girl, is living out his days in the pasture. The girls had great fun grooming him with Tam, and then getting to ride him. Madelyn was pleased to get to show off the skills she learned in horse camp a few weeks ago, esp. when Tam let her ride on her own.

After a moment of uncertainty when he first started moving under her, Gwen was thrilled get to ride a horse! Tam took her for a nice long ride down the road and back.
Tam and I with her old friend, PV. He's a lot whiter than he used to be, but still seems to be full of spirit! What a treat for my city girls and I to get to hang out at the barn for a few hours!