Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Haircut Result

This is Caleb's before haircut profile, taken last night. The funny thing is that he had actually gotten a haircut on Sunday, so this isn't long hair. It's the shorter version of the way he's worn his hair for the past few years, though. A couple of years ago he had his hair about this length and longer, but with no layers... ended up with a less neat look. I liked his hair like this picutre. No complaints from me. That's why it was so funny to hear his pronouncement last night about being "sick of this stupid long hair"! I think his issue was not really with the overall length, but with a few side pieces that wanted to curl or bend in a funny way that he couldn't seem to tame.

Here are the after shots. It's definitely not a buzz, but for once in the past several years, his whole ear is visible. :-) It's funny, I think he looks older with the haircut, but I also felt like I could better see the little boy he used to be with his hair like this.
He really wasn't wanting to pose for pictures last night as he was busy with last minute packing for his interim trip. His group of about twenty students and two teachers left this morning at 7 a.m. for a week in Guizhou province (southwest China, south of Sichuan). He is on a week-long adventure trip that will include kayaking and hiking, with some overnight camping. I understand that Guizhou is a mountainous province where largely minority Chinese people (not Han Chinese, which is what over 90% of the Chinese people are) live. I'm excited about what he will see and experience!

Great haircut, man!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Can't Believe My Ears

My oldest son just said, "I'm sick of this stupid long hair."

What?? What did you say? Are you the kid who for the last handful of years has resisted haircuts until your mop was well past the point of being shaggy?

He has gone to the barber shop. He is there now. Mind you, he just got a trim the day before yesterday, so this is really something. He has spoken of getting a buzz. I will be shocked if that's what he comes home with.

I will give a full report, with photos, later on tonight.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

When There Was One

Out of the archives... actually, out of the frame on my dresser. I love this photo of Caleb and I; it's a good one to have around as a reminder of simpler days! It was taken in the front yard of my parents' old house, the house I grew up in, in May of 1995, when Caleb was nine months old and I was 26. Long ago! My grandma, who is two months away from her 101st birthday, took this photo. She was faithfully labeled all her photos, and on the back of this one, in her distinctive handwriting, it says the place and date it was taken along with this description, "This one is a winner! Lynne and Caleb playing on the lawn at Bob and Nancy's".

Thanks, Grandma.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Park on the Corner

Jinqiao, the area of Shanghai where we live, has a clear dividing line. On one side of Central Yanggou, an eight lane road, is where a large portion of the expat community housing on this side of the river is located. Walled-in communities with guards at the entrance are the norm. There are many restaurants that cater to foreigners. Except for outside the international schools at the end of the school day, traffic on this side of Jinqiao is fairly light. On the other side of Central Yanggao is what we call "Chinese Jinqiao." Lots of locals live here. Yes, it is still Jinqiao, but it looks and feels completely different. There are lots of apartment buildings. There are many little fruit markets, sidewalk vendors making dumplings and noodles, and shoe and bike repairmen that set up shop by the side of the road. It's a busier area, more cars, more bikes, more people.

This afternoon, after dropping Madelyn off at her dance class, I decided that instead of biking home, I would stay out and ride around while I waited for Madelyn. With Gwen in her seat on the back of my bike, I headed to the dividing line, across Central Yangguo into "Chinese Jinqio", because although it's more congested, it's much more interesting.

We enjoyed the ride, peeking into little shops as we rode and just generally people watching. Soon I found myself heading down a road I hadn't been on before. We came to a small city park, and drawn in by all the kites flying above it and displayed for sale on the hedge near the entrance, we decided to take a spin around on the paths inside it. It had the usual groups of men gathered around stone tables playing cards, and men with their huge reels of kite string carefully tending the fanciful animals high in the air at the end of the string. But here was something new... many, many little cars lined up along one hedge... turns out they were battery powered and for 2 RMB (about 25 cents), you could rent one for a spin around the park paths. We saw three year old children driving these cars, towing their parent behind them in an attached wagon! There was the ricketiest little circle of metal train track, set up on a beautiful stamped concrete patio area. A three car train circled this track playing gaudy music. Babies, not even a year old, were propped into these cars for a 1 RMB ride. There were several small bouncy castle attractions. These were 3 RMB for some period of time inside to jump.

I had only 1 RMB in the little wrist purse I had brought along to carry my phone, not thinking I would be needing any money. I gave the money to Gwen, and we checked out what things she could use it for... seemed to be a choice between the rickety train and some other little vehicles that just rocked back in forth in place. She and I sat on the edge of a raised flower bed and took in the scene. She clutched the 1 RMB bill in her hand, but didn't move to ride anything even though I pointed out the options several times. I think for both of us the scene was so interesting we were entertained just watching. There were toddlers and mamas and grandparents everywhere, and they often stopped to stare at Gwen and I and chatter about us. Most of the toddlers were wearing the traditional split pants, bare underneath, to make pottying anywhere quick and easy. Gwen noted this, and I told her about the split pants that were part of one of the layers of clothing she was wearing when we met her.

We finally had to leave this little park to go back for Madelyn. I noted the street names on the corner where it was located (Jinkou and Jinyang) so we can come back another time, maybe with a camera and a little more money. I told Gwen she could get one of the cars next time and take me for a ride.

This is one of the things I love about living in China... there is always something different around the corner, a little slice of life not on any tourbook's recommendation list.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Gwen has been looking forward to playing soccer for a long while. She kept asking when we were going to sign her up. Last weekend the great day arrived for her first soccer practice. When we pulled out the new cleats, shin guards and soccer socks, her excitement dimmed. She's not much of a sock girl, and these socks were really long. Then came the confinement of shoes that actually tie (not crocs or flip-flops, like she's used to), and last the shin guards that hugged her legs. She was bawling by the time she was suited up and out the door!
Fortunately she got over that issue quickly, and today there were no tears about the soccer paraphenalia. Last week was actually just a skills assessment, this week tentative teams were formed and they did some practice drills. Next week, finalized teams and official jerseys. Big time!

Shoes and socks might be a struggle, but now running fast... that comes easy to this girl!
A kick and a miss... but pretty nice form!
I'm coming for a drink of water, Mom!
I remember Caleb's first organized sports experience, eleven years ago. It also happened to be soccer. I watched from the sidelines, seven and eight months pregnant with Madelyn, while two and half year old Seth scampered around after Scott and "helped" him coach Caleb's team. It's a different experience now with Gwen... still a big deal because it's her first time, but Scott and I are much more laid back by now. Is it just our age showing? :-) It's still a lot of fun to watch a pack of short little kids run around the field after the ball.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Summer Horse Camp

I am quite late in posting this set of pictures, but want to do it anyway as I am attempting to convert my blog to a hard copy, in the form of books, a little at a time, in order for it to serve as a family photo album and journal. I have completed and ordered my first attempt at this, which happens to be from 2007, the year we moved to China. I had the book sent to my sister, since I can't have it sent here, so I am hoping to soon receive word that it has arrived at her house and that it turned out well.

Madelyn had the great joy of attending a horse camp for a week in July. It was while we were staying at my parents' home, Daddy was already back in China, and the boys were away at camp in Michigan. There are stables on the roads that my parents' housing develpment is sandwiched between. I checked out both of them for opportunities, and the closer one had an opening beginning in two days. Not only was it an opening, it ended up being a situation with just Madelyn and one other girl! It was a wonderful time. Every afternoon for a week she had instruction in grooming the horse, learning about the tack and how to put it on the horse, an individual riding lesson, and then getting to bathe the horse, feed him, and do other odds and ends in the stable. Madelyn and her friend give Doc some loving!
The day I came to take pictures the two girls had their riding lessons outside, instead of in the arena. I was so pleased to have the blue sky and trees as background!
I was so proud of how confident Madelyn was leading this big horse around by herself! She really did well. So grateful she had this opportunity!

If you are a regular reader, you may remember that the girls and I visited my cousin in PA this summer and went to see her horse with her while we were there. This was just a couple of weeks after Madelyn had been at horse camp, so it was neat for her to get to use some of the skills she had learned at camp when she rode my cousin's horse.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Family Fun Fest

Gwen and her friends were pretty pleased with their painted faces yesterday afternoon at our church's Family Fest outreach event.
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Our hamster has been lost for almost 24 hours. We've hunted high and low today with no success. Madelyn has set a tiny bowl of hamster food in the hallway, and taped the tiny rodent water bottle to the wall about three inches from the floor, just in case he passes by and happens to be hungry or thirsty.

We have two cats in this house. What do you think this hamster's chances of survival are? Does anyone have any suggestions for luring pet rodents out of hiding?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

New Song

Available as a single from iTunes as of today, is Steven Curtis Chapman's new song, "Heaven Is The Face". Has anyone else heard it?

What do you think??

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Last Weekend's Walk

Last Saturday I went to the Puxi side of Shanghai by myself. I was feeling like I needed to get out of Jinqiao, which although it has a thoroughly Chinese influence, it is a bit suburban. I was feeling like I needed a dose of "real" China, or at least a change of scenery. The rest of my family was happy with the suburban activities of the day, so I headed out with Mr. Wu with no real direction. I did have a couple of pictures with me that I wanted to have framed, so we made a frame shop I had been to before our destination.

Now this "shop" is actually just sort of a booth. It probably has a garage style door that pulls down. It is on the end of a row of a couple of shops. There's not really any parking area, just a place to pull off the road, with tons of congestion and construction all around. But this guy does an amazing job of framing, and his prices are amazingly low. I popped into his shop and pantomimed what I wanted him to do with the pictures. He wrote down some measurements, and held up his ruler around the pictures to see how wide I wanted the mat. Once I was sort of certain we understood each other, I motioned for Mr Wu to come in because I wasn't sure when the frame guy was going to have my pictures ready. We realized that he was doing it right away and it would be ready in 30 minutes!

Here is the shop... that's Mr. Wu in the aqua shirt.
While I waited, I decided to go for a walk in the old style housing in the area. I ducked down a little alleyway outside the frame shop, and I was just steps away from a section of housing full of tiny shops and tiny restaurants, narrow passageways, outdoor kitchen sinks, lots of laundry hanging out to dry, and fresh food for sale all over. This was the step outside of suburbia I had been hoping for! I spent the next half an hour poking around, taking pictures, peeking down alleyways and into doorways. Here are a few of the things I saw!

People gathered on the sidewalk for card games, people watching, and selling food.
Just your local recycling pick-up bicycle cart. Now this we do see plenty of in Jinqiao.
I love this photo... it's so very typical of an old style housing area.
This guy was in a market area. His job appeared to be slitting open small eels. I saw one eel that had escaped and was slithering through the small amount of water by the curb...
Laundry everywhere! Can you spot the pink bra?
A kitchen window? I think so... can you see the wok, egg shells, and chopsticks?
It was a great walk. I don't mean to gawk, and I don't think I am anymore because I've seen a lot of this kind of thing in the past two years. But I like to go out and be a part of it. I know I'm not really a part of it, I look too different. But I'm not afraid like I was at first. I feel comfortable poking around in "real" China.

When I made it back around to the frame shop, I found my pictures ready. A beautiful framing job, with a precisely cut mat openings, the back all sealed and a hanging wire in place. Want to guess the price? I had Scott try to guess when I got home and showed it to him. His guess was nearly ten times the actual price that I paid. Any guesses?
It was 25 RMB, equivalent to around $3.50 USD. Really, you can't beat it!

Now Scott has new pictures of our girls hanging in his office. Last weekend's walk was great in more than one way!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Canoe Trip Photo Album

I'm warning you now, this post contains LOTS of pictures! Thus the title, Canoe Trip Photo Album. I had a really hard time narrowing down the 500+ pictures I had to work with. Both cameras that these pictures were taken with were point and shoot, and I think they took some amazing photos! Feel free to scroll quickly, but don't miss the amazing scenery of British Columbia that these six guys were surrounded by last month.

Evan, Caleb and Seth don their filled backpacks in Uncle Ken's living room the night before the trip.
In Bowron Lake Provincial Park, ready to start!
And they're off!This picture cracks me up! Uncle Ken is graciously doing all the paddling while Caleb takes his ease in the front of the canoe. I'm sure it was a momentary thing... right, Uncle Ken?!
Hey guys, let's hike up to that falls!

The crew skirts around the edge of this falls. Who will be the first to plunge in?
Uncle Justin and Seth face the freezing water. Seth said it was so cold it literally took their breath away!Their wet heads prove they all did it!
Justin and Caleb on the way to fill their drinking water containers from a mountain spring.

An overturned canoe served as a buffet table all week.
Fooling around in the canoe late one afternoon, after the campsite for the night was already reached.

Handy to have wheels to portage between lakes.
I love the reflection in this picture!
The canoes were emptied of all the gear every night when the guys set up camp. Aren't they picturesque waiting here by the edge of the lake for the next day's adventure?
Love the obvious "just woke up" look on Seth's face!

Again, the reflection is so beautiful!

Floating down the rapids!
Caleb and Uncle Justin are feeling like true adventurers about now!
Another portage... notice all the moss on the hillside.

There are ten lakes on the circuit... this one seems to have deep aqua water.
Breakfast with a mountain view!
Caleb, the lone fisherman...
A beach campsite
Another day, another lake, another mountain!
Coffee was a staple, both evening...
...and morning!
They made it!
Thanks, Uncle Ken, for taking my guys on a trip of a lifetime!