Sunday, January 31, 2010

Two More Metal Mouths

Both Caleb and Scott got braces on their top teeth yesterday. Bottom braces are coming at next month's appointment. Little bit of Advil being taken today!
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Friday, January 29, 2010

Gwen's Stage Debut

The Princesses in the Court of the Queen of Hearts

For weeks Seth has been helping with the 5th and 6th grade production of "Alice in Wonderland" as a student director. He has had the opportunity to practice lines with students, work with groups of students on their individual scenes, set up and run sound and lighting cues, apply stage make-up, and do a myriad of other little tasks to help the director. He was also asked to play the guitar for the ending dance. He's had a great time being on the other side of this dramatic production.

Over the last few weeks before the show opened, rehearsals got longer and longer, and so the girls and I often took some food over to Seth to carry him through until the rehearsal ended. The girls loved to sit in the theater and watch the rehearsal, and sometimes would choose that over going to one of Caleb's basketball games (okay, they ALWAYS chose the theater over basketball!), so I would leave them there to hang out while I watched basketball.

One one of these days, Seth was sitting with the faculty director at the soundboard in the back of the theater. She knows our family and LOVES Seth, and also happens to have a Chinese daughter. When we came in that day, she saw Gwen and asked her if she would like to be in the play. Gwen couldn't believe her good fortune! It was especially amazing to her because she knew that her school friend Callie had a part in the play, too.

So this is how we've spent the last couple of evenings, with one more show to go tonight. Gwen's part is quite simple- no lines. :-) All she has to do is sit at the side of the stage with the other Princesses in the Court of the Queen of Hearts watching the Queen's croquet game. But for a girl who has often wished she could "be on the stage," it is a very big deal!

Waiting in the green room with the other members of the cast... here Gwen and her friend Callie play cards with the Duchess and Alice.
Just a little stage make-up... pretty fancy!
Onstage at last...
Dancing with the whole cast onstage with the rest of the cast at the end of the show!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A No Good, Very Bad Day

Gwen got off the bus this afternoon looking quite down in the mouth.

"Mommy, I had a bad day."

She has never said this before, so I was really curious to hear what reason she would give.

I picked her up, and with bottom lip sticking way out, she said, "Teacher said she would give me a star if I spoke Chinese all day, but I forgot."

Ah, the trials of a child who is almost bilingual... maybe if I worked a little harder on my Chinese and practiced my extremely limited Mandarin vocabulary on her more often, it would help.

Poor girl. :-) She can try again for an English-free school day tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Found: Tickle Spot!

I love the looks on both Uncle Shann's and Isaac's faces in this photo!

Monday, January 25, 2010

She's Back

My talented amateur photographer sister-in-law, Mindy, has restarted her photo blog. The idea is that she will post one picture a day, taken that day, for 365 consecutive days. She did this several years ago and it was so fun to see her new photo each day. She's already got some great ones on there for this new season of the Photo Dilettante. Click here to check out the latest.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Her Face

Gwen came home from a birthday party yesterday with this face. Later when I was showing Scott this picture I took of her, he said, "Look how beautiful she is! Who's daughter is that?"

It's funny, with an adopted child, you know you can't take any credit for their looks. Of course we really can't control how any of our children look- it's all God's doing- but with an adopted child you can just be overtly in awe of them.

We think this girl is especially cute, don't you? :-) Look what God did!

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Giraffe for Aunt Sarah

I am jumping back to some Christmas pictures here. :-)

Madelyn created some art work for several of her aunts and uncles that we had framed (at one of the incredibly inexpensive framing places here in Shanghai) for Christmas gifts for them. She came up with this fun idea for a cute giraffe made of shapes she cut out of different colored paper for Brad and Sarah, knowing that Sarah has always loved giraffes. I love this sequence of pictures that Scott took of the three of them as the gift was opened.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Art-and-Snacks Party

Yesterday afternoon we had a fun gathering in honor of Madelyn's birthday. She had the idea for an art party, and it worked so well! We had two projects to do. The first was painting a ceramic mask and the second was creating a design on a canvas using colored papers that the girls cut into shapes and applied with watered down glue. We had lots of fun snacks set up in the kitchen to munch on in between and during the two projects. Seth made a guest appearance and played the guitar a little for the girls while they sang, and he and Gwen both painted a little with them as well. We gave each girl a paint palette to use when we painted the masks, and then they took those home as their favors.
Here are the results of the artistic afternoon!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cool Dudes

Seth and Caden had a little fun with hair wax when we were together at Grandpa and Grandma's house. :-)
Going to try to post a few Christmas pictures here and there in the next few days!

Monday, January 11, 2010

10 Years of Madelyn!

Part of our birthday decorations... pictures of Madelyn on the door between the kitchen and dining room.

Posted are the youngest one, taken when she was eight weeks old, toddler pictures, a t-ball shot, her four year old portrait (my grandma said that it was so good, I would never get a better picture of her!), a picture of her at a pirate party with yucky fake teeth in her mouth, one with her American Girl doll, one where she's wearing a dress my great grandmother crocheted for my mother to wear as a toddler, a picture of her serving tea to the dolls arranged around her on her bed, one wearing one of her aunt's wedding veil, and others.
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Shootin' a Three

I love this photo! I cannot take credit for taking it; although Scott and I have both tried to get good sports pictures, it seems we often end up with a whole lot of junk. Fortunately, the father of one of the guys on Caleb's team takes excellent photos and emails them to all the players and parents after every game. The guys comb through these photos, looking for new screen savers for their laptops. :-) I'm just happy to have great shots of Caleb in action... who knows, I just might update my screen saver, too.
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Friday, January 08, 2010

Golden Birthday!

We celebrated the beginning of Madelyn's birthday weekend with a cake that we shared with our homeschool co-op friends after lunch today. Ten candles on that cake... amazing!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A Few Photos From Christmas in Shanghai

We had our family Christmas celebration here in Shanghai on the Sunday morning before we left for the US on Friday. It's been tricky to make our family Christmas special and meaningful the last few years, when we've been in the process of preparing to leave the country for several weeks. I was really thankful for how it worked out this year, it seemed less rushed to do it almost a full week ahead of time.

Caleb hung out in this scarf from Seth and gloves from his stocking all morning, along with one of his favorite knit hats.
Seth gave good thank-you hugs to all!

Madelyn was super excited about the gift she had picked out for Scott... it was an orange striped tie with matching orange cuff links. Here she can't wait for him to get his first glimpse! If you look closely at Scott's left cheekbone, you'll see the matching yellowish bruise he got playing basketball a few days before.
Gwen watched intently while I opened her gift to me. Remember her Christmas shopping excursion at the 2 RMB store? She gave me not one, but two bead necklaces she bought on that trip. I wore the black one to church last Sunday. :-)
Gwen in her new Uggs... fake, of course!
One of my resolutions this year was to spend less time on the computer... thus my slowness in posting pictures. Maybe I'll have to take fewer pictures as well!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Notes in the New Year

Feel free to skim or skip... this is just a bit of stream of consciousness about the last couple weeks and the coming week!

We're back at home in Shanghai. We've struggled with jet lag in varying degrees all weekend. Tonight at dinner Gwen was whining pleadingly to be put to bed. Madelyn, Seth, and Scott soon followed her. Caleb, on the other hand, being a teenager, has been able to sleep in later in the morning than any of the rest of us, and is currently out playing basketball with a friend, at 9:45 at night, the last night before school starts again for 2010.

I used my wakefulness due to jet lag at 4 a.m. the other morning to my advantage... I got up and undecorated the Christmas tree in the quietness of the house, with only one of our cats for company. I worked for an hour and then went back to bed, feeling pleased with myself for using the time so well. However, the pieces of our artificial tree are still lying in pieces on the living room floor, two days later. Hoping to get it put away soon...

Madelyn is looking forward to her birthday. She will be ten years old on the tenth of January, in the year 2010! Fun. She and I planned several months ago that she could do a mini room-redo for her birthday. I'm hoping it means we get some things sorted and cleaned up; I know she is planning on a new comforter for her bed and hanging long curtains to partition off part of the room. Happily, I think we will be able to do both. I was pleased to find a long tension type shower curtain rod at Carrefour tonight for only 38 RMB that I think we can use to hang the curtains. I got her some lavender-fading-into-white sheers at Walmart in the US that we will hopefully hang up tomorrow.

Although the boys return to school tomorrow, and Madelyn and I will resume school then as well, Gwen has another week off. I'm hoping to get in several phonics lessons with her this week while she is home with me. English phonics is the one thing missing at her school, since they are spoken to in Chinese all day. I've been using the phonics program with her that I used to teach the other three kids to read, but doing it kind of hit or miss. This week will be catch up time. Gwen is hoping to go to the Science and Technology Museum this week, which she loves! Her favorite things to do there are to wander through the extensive animal exhibit, showing real (now stuffed- this fascinates her) animals in their natural habitats, and riding what she calls "the fruit ride". On the fruit ride you sit in a huge strawberry, watermelon or apple, and take a trip into a giant mouth and through the digestive system. You can imagine how it ends. Fortunately the narration throughout the ride is all in Chinese, so we don't get the full effect, but I imagine Gwen gets a lot more of it than I do.

Our time in Chicago and Cleveland was wonderful. What a treat it is to be with those whom we love at Christmas! There was a Man Hike through the winter woods for the boys and two of their uncles, sleepovers for the girls at Aunt Jenna's and Pa and Nannie's houses, a walk through the woods lit with Christmas light displays, and baby boy cousins who have grown much bigger than they were in the summer. There was a Cavs game with seats that offered an amazing view of Lebron; Avatar, Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, and Princess and the Frog movie outings, and dinner for all at Bubba's BBQ. There were new blue glasses for Madelyn and new school pants for the boys. There were games of Guesstures, Scene-It Sports, Loaded Questions, and Malarky. There were lots of cookies and many cups of coffee. There were several nativity finger puppet shows, one much better than the other according to Caden. There were nieces singing in church on Christmas Eve and salmon for supper afterwards. There were little girls in pink coats passing out sandwiches. There was a birthday treasure hunt for Seth, leading him inside and out in search of the thirteen clues that led to the location of his gift. There was a dirt pudding birthday cake, complete with sour gummy worms. There was packing and packing and packing, and good-bye hugs and prayers and leaving for the airport while it was still dark.

And now we're here and regular life begins again. The weather is warmer here than it was in the Midwest~ today we flew a kite and threw the football around under a pale blue sky and warm winter sunshine. We also sorted through clothes in various closets and filled bags to give away. We went to church at 3 pm like we always do, and then out to dinner at Element Fresh, one of our favorite spots just a short walk from church. After dinner I walked to Carrefour and bought the curtain rod along with other odds and ends, took a taxi home and found most of my family sleeping. I've fiddled around tonight with various small tasks, and gotten school stuff ready for tomorrow.

Caleb has come home now from basketball, iced his bloodied lip, and gone to bed. I think I will go there now too.