Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Waiting for Business

Another photo from last week's bike ride. These fellows have a whole line of little battery operated cars for rent in the park. I rented Gwen and Madelyn each one some time last year... I think they were 2 RMB for 15 minutes or something like that. When I took this picture, it was fairly early in the morning, so no customers were in the park wanting a little car yet. These gentlemen passed the time playing a board game of some kind on the benches between them.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Gwen has had a great start to first grade at Concordia... mostly. There have been a couple of days, today among them, that she has not wanted to go to school. Tears flow from puffy eyes, and "I want to stay home with you" is the phrase repeated again and again.

Sigh. I know it's a normal phase, part of adjusting and all that, but to a former home schooling mama, it cuts deep. Fills me with all kinds of doubts about our decision to send our youngest child to school all day. I didn't do this with the other kids. They got to stay home with Mommy.

Gwen's lovely teacher, Mrs. Norton, came out into the hall and welcomed my weepy girl with open arms this morning. She admired her hair ribbon and guided her gently into the classroom. I stood outside the room, out of sight, for a couple of minutes, and then walked back down the stairs and out of the building.

Sigh. I know she is in the palm of the hand of the One who created her. I know He has given me good things to do while the kids are away at school. This isn't how I did it before. That can be okay... I think.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cosmo Circle

We have a strange yard, if you can call it that, around our house here in Jinqiao. The front inside the gate is completely cobbled, so that the car can pull right up to the front door. There is a small amount of grass, but not enough to really mention. The focal point of the "yard" is this round, elevated garden of sorts. I think it was meant to be a fountain in the landlord's original plans, because it has a water source in it, but the circle was filled in with soil at some point, and has brambly little bushes planted around the perimeter. Some seasons maintenance has planted flowers in the middle, but this year there was nothing growing but weeds. While we were in the US this summer, enjoying working in the yards at our parents' homes, I decided I was tired of leaving this circle flower bed to the whims of the management, and bought flower seeds to plant when we returned to Shanghai.
I planted two varieties of cosmo seeds the day after our plane landed in Shanghai nearly three weeks ago, after spending a good hour clipping back the brambly bushes around the edge of the circle and pulling all the weeds growing in the middle. Cosmos grow so easily, and with the hot and steamy weather here, they were literally poking their little heads up out of the ground within days. They've needed water every day, but the last couple days we've had some good rain to help them along.

I'm loving having something in the yard to nurture besides the couple of pots of flowers on the front steps. There is something so satisfying about watching plants emerge from the ground and flourish. I'm hoping these grow and bloom above the level of the bramble bushes. I'm planning to chronicle their development here. Thanks for indulging me!

Seen on the Street

I followed this guy with a load of bicycle tire tubes for a couple of blocks, waiting for him to stop so I could snag a photo. Were they old or new? I'm not sure, but he was headed somewhere with them.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Morning Playgroup

I came across this scene of grandmothers on their stools and toddlers gathered together on the sidewalk this morning as I rode my bike. :-)
Posted by Picasa

A New Space in Her Mouth

We finally got the top tooth out! Of the five teeth she's lost now, Gwen has not pulled one out on her own. This top tooth had hung on a long time, driving me crazy! Finally on Sunday night she said, "Mom, can you just take it out?" I was more than happy to oblige.
Tonight we had a little fun taking pictures of this new hole in her mouth. :-)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mini He

Seth continues his extra curricular photo manipulation. :-)
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Big and Little

This morning, the second day of school, Gwen requested that Caleb (not Mommy- gulp!) walk her to school. At least I got to man the camera...

In the Freezer Section at Carrefour

Anyone for rice glue balls?
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

So Soon, School

School hasn't started yet, but Gwen loves it already. She spent about 20 minutes in her classroom at Concordia with her new teacher at orientation on Monday, and she is now extolling her virtues. One is that she "talks beautiful." (She has a lovely Australian accent.) Gwen has been counting down the days until the school year begins, and now there is only one more day!

Yesterday, when there were still two more days until the first day of school, we busied ourselves with the first "homework" from Gwen's new teacher~ labeling the school supplies. Gwen painstakingly wrote her name on each marker, a task that I had wondered if she could complete successfully, considering the roundness and narrowness of the markers. Didn't she do a great job?

As I laid in bed last night, I thought back to the growing line of those markers on the rug as she completed each one, and I knew I wanted to take a picture of them this morning. Definitely a moment in time. :-)
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Birthday, Here and There

Caleb's 16th birthday was last week. I remember saying to Scott, in the weeks and days before his birth, especially after my due date had come and gone and there was still no baby, "There's just nothing to do until he comes." Ha! Little did I know... a whole new phase of my life was beginning, one with plenty to do in it, starting with two active little boys and going from there. But Caleb was the first, and now he's not a little boy anymore. I'm loving watching him mature, as he is "going for it" in many areas.

Pa and Nanny had a special celebration for Caleb while we were still in the US, with little cousins and aunts and uncles in attendance. We had a gathering for him here in Shanghai as well, with our dear friends, the Allens, joining us for dinner less than 24 hours after their plane landed in Shanghai.
There's no driver's license to obtain for an American kid in Shanghai, so that rite of passage will have to wait. But Caleb has a pretty sweet new bike parked outside, and a stack of letters of wisdom from men that love him, to carry him into his 17th year and manhood.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Whirlwind of Fun

We had such a fun couple of days with the China sisters last weekend. Our girls were busy, busy!
It was neat to see the girls all relating to one another so quickly. I know kids of this age generally do feel comfortable with age mates easily, but I have to believe that these girls have a special bond.
We played at the beach... building a dam, swimming, hunting for shells and lake glass, and sculpting mermaid tails in the sand.
Kate escapes from the bonds of her mermaid tail!
Alia models her tail.
Kimberly and Gwen conversing on the break wall.
Jumping on the bed in the hotel where our friends were staying was a popular activity!
Kate's mom had these initial shirts made for all the girls, including the big sisters. Here are Alia and Gwen with their big sisters, Kela and Madelyn.
Alia and Gwen both have March birthdays, and had the same Chinese surname when they joined our familes. Being the same age, they would have been in the same play and sleeping rooms at their orphanage. They clearly knew each other and enjoyed interacting together in the days we spent together while their adoptions were processing. Alia is a good 3-4 inches taller than Gwen, but Gwen can proudly claim being older by a couple of weeks. :-)
Dinner was a casual one, at Five Guys for yummy burgers. We also had some coloring time so the moms and Dean could chat. :-) Here is our whole crew, minus my girls. I guess they were still coloring!

Last stop on our full day of playing was a visit to a playground that squeezed out the last bit of energy our girls had. At one point they ran around together in a little pack, saying it was time for a "China sisters' meeting". Apparently that meant the other three girls would run after the one in the lead to the leader's chosen destination.

Madelyn and Kate take a ride together.
Kimberly on the zip line.
Gwen gets a big push from Dean, Alia's dad.
It was a wonderful reunion. People have related the bond of families that adopted together as being like all being in the delivery room together for the birth of your children. A group birth experience sounds a little funky, but our four families were all in the same room at a civil affairs office in the Sichuan province when we met our daughters for the first time four and a half years ago, and that did create a special tie for all of us. The girls all knew each other before we had even seen their faces!

Thanks, everyone, for making the effort to gather the Sichuan girls, China sisters, this summer. Let's do it again. :-)

Saturday, August 07, 2010

And Again

Once again I sit in the Admirals Club in the O'Hare airport, waiting for the flight to Shanghai. We've just finished our third summer of visiting the US for the hot weeks of Shanghai summer. Now the kids and I head back to our home away from home for the fourth year of our sojourn in China. Scott has been back there for several weeks already. It's wearying in some ways, this being away from our own space and having our family separated for some of the summer weeks. But its also wonderful to have this kind of time that is so very different than our other life in Shanghai, with our extended families in the green of the Midwest.

We think we have two more school years in China, so that means next summer will be our last of this kind, where we leave our home for the summer and travel around the world to be with our extended family. I made a comment in a post a few months ago about how sad it will be to be on that final flight coming home from Shanghai someday, knowing that we wouldn't be returning there in the fall. I'm glad that final flight is still a couple of years away, as we still have lots to look forward to in our "China life," but this morning, on the early flight from Cleveland to Chicago, I had an inkling of the relief we might feel to no longer be doing this back and forth. Someday. :-)

So in a few hours we'll head out for the long flight, the fourteen hour one, to go home to Scott and China. I am still incredibly grateful for this whole experience of living on the other side of the world, and although it will be good to have it end in a couple of years, I'm glad it's not over yet.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


Gwen and her cousin Alyssa love to be twins... whether it be fixing their hair the same, wearing twirly dresses, or having flowers in their hair... whatever. Don't you see the resemblance?
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 01, 2010

China Sisters Together Again!

Gwen, Kate, Kimberly and Alia
We had such a fun reunion with our adoption group this weekend! It was the first time all four of these girls have been together since they had all just joined our families in December 2005. See the picture below! What a change in five years. The girls are not in the same order in the two photos... can you tell who is who?We were very busy playing together this time... all four girls running, jumping and cartwheeling! I'll post more pictures soon of all the fun we had. :-)