Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Conversation with a Chicken

Gwen greets a dried and flattened chicken at Carrefour.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Living Where I Am

Last night I dreamed about the half bath in our house in Chicago.  In my dream I had painted the small room a deep red. 

We haven't lived in our house in Chicago since we left it to move to Shanghai in early July, 2007.  In the past four plus years several different families have rented our house.  Families with children I've never met.  They've cooked in our kitchen, slept in our bedrooms, played in our backyard.

Although the transition to living in Asia wasn't without its struggles, we love living in Shanghai.  I've detailed some of the reasons why we love life here in other posts.  Suffice it to say, it will be difficult to leave the life we have here.  We know now that we will be leaving here next June, after five years.

Now that we have an end in sight, I'm beginning to think more about that house in Chicagoland that we left behind.  I really haven't thought about it much while we've lived here, except when the stove there is on the blink or a pipe is leaking.  The necessity of having the house in working order for the renters has claimed a hour or two of my attention a few times a year, but not much more than that.  But recently I've found myself online browsing how to paint kitchen cupboards.  I've contemplated furniture arrangement for the family room.  I've wondered about my perennials in the garden next to the garage.  I've thought about painting the half bath and the bedrooms. 

We've heard from the property manager that the house is "wearing evenly".  We've chuckled about what that must mean, and feel certain that after multiple families with multiple small children, it surely means the already worn carpet will likely need to be replaced when we move back.  We know that an ornamental tree by the front porch blew over in a storm a few years ago.  The roof was needing to be replaced before we moved to China, as was the asphalt driveway.  These projects will need attention when we get back to our house.

But we still have most of a school year left in China.  Our move is not immanent.  We have kids' sporting events to attend here, and school music programs to enjoy. We have new friends to get to know better, friends who are just beginning their Shanghai adventure.  We have small groups, Bible studies, men's breakfasts.  Caleb has one more SAT to sit for, college applications to complete, and graduation festivities coming in the spring.  We have walks and bike rides yet to take.  We have visitors coming here, both this fall and next spring.  There is still growing up to do in Shanghai.  There is a little more Asia travel in the offing.  There are more babies to be a part of helping find families for, through Baobei Foundation.  There is work to do.  In short, God willing, there is a lot of life yet to be lived in Shanghai.

So I don't want to be too hasty or premature in thinking about our old home in Chicago.  It's tempting to let the decorating I haven't been able to do for these China years creep into more and more of my thoughts.  It's easy to spend too much time thinking about what will come when this time here is over.  But then it will be over.  Scott and I have discussed this issue several times, this idea that we don't want to write this year off, to operate as if we already have one foot on the plane back to the US.  We want to live this last year here fully.  It's easy to look ahead.  Sometimes for me, it requires more discipline to live in the now.  The pastor of our church in Chicago used to frequently say, "Wherever you are, be there."

I'm going to be in China this year.  Remind me, if you hear me thinking ahead too much, that what's coming will come all too quickly.  I don't want to miss this year.  I want to live here fully.

Painting the half bath can wait.  I do like the idea of deep red, though...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Not quite sure what's for dinner...

 A couple of items on the menu at the local Chinese restaurant where the six of us ate tonight... although we didn't order these particular dishes, we did get an insane amount of food for a ridiculously low price.  Note to self to eat at places like this more often before we leave China!  Yum.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Volleyball Revisited

I'm sure you can tell that neither Scott nor I took these volleyball pictures! Little bit better than the ones in my last volleyball post.... obviously.  :-)   Our photographer friend, the one who also took the Class of 2012 photos I featured last week, showed up at the Saturday varsity games last weekend.  So glad to get these great shots!

                                             Love, love this action shot of our Number 7!

 Seth is totally holding his own on the varsity team as the only 9th grade starter!

Seth liked this photo because he said he was getting ready to hit the ball... he knows what comes next after the set!
 Number 6, airborne!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


The requests for a dog have been going on in our family for more than a decade.  We've always had good reasons for saying no.  Living in China for the past four plus years has seemed to be a very good reason, with traveling back to the States at Christmas and summer... how could we possibly have a dog?   Madelyn has wanted a dog, but Caleb has been the one who has felt the lack of a canine companion the most.  At this point, with only one school year left at home for him, I had kind of written off his desire as one that would be realized when he was on his own.

Enter Trigger.  A friend offered her to us, with all her paraphenalia.  He had two dogs and could only keep one.  It happens that this dog he was giving up is the one breed I have considered over the years (Cavelier King Charles Spaniel).  She was a year old in June.  She is the quietest dog I have ever encountered, a big plus for me.  She is cute and sweet and incredibly friendly.  She had another name, a girl name... but Caleb's dream dog name has been Trigger for years, he says, and since by virtue of his age he has longed for a dog the greatest length of time, we gave him naming rights.

We broke our camera twelve hours after Trigger came home with us... but I'm sure we'll find a way to take more photos of our newest family member.   :-)

P.S.  The cats are a little freaked out right now- in fact, as I was thumbing through my closet to dress for church this afternoon, I was surprised to see Percy's yellow eyes staring out at me from behind the clothes.  Hoping they adjust quickly.   

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gwen Stamp

Shall I submit it to the US Postal Service?  :-)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Class of 2012

Caleb's class posed for photos on the Bund on the Huangpu River last Friday morning.  Unfortunately it was a bit smoggy to capture much of the view, but I think the hazy silhouette of the Pudong skyline in the panoramic photo has a neat effect.  Can you find Caleb in all the photos?  Click on the photo to enlarge.  :-) 

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Uncooked spaghetti noodles all over.  Please tell me I'm not the only one this has happened to...

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Varsity Volleyball

Caleb and Seth are both on the varsity guys volleyball team this fall. Their season officially started on Saturday with a friendly three match tournament. It was pretty cool to have both boys on the same team! Caleb naturally got more playing time as a senior, but Seth held his own and definitely contributed when he was on the court. In the picture below, they are both jumping for the block. Caleb is #7, Seth is #6.
I told my dad on the phone this morning that I think I'm a bit of a sports snob. Although I had moments where I enjoyed watching the boys compete in sports at younger ages, this level where they really know how to play and the skill level is high is so much more fun to watch! I guess that's why the pros can draw the crowds. :-)

Can't seem to get the hang of good sports photos... we keep trying, but with only fair results. Perhaps if I knew my camera better, the pictures would be better. It's times like the tournament on Saturday that I really wish we were near our families so they could share a day like that with us. Our photographs just don't do it justice. Such a fun, exciting atmosphere, lots of families there, all cheering for our guys together. :-)

Friday, September 02, 2011

Not Tired

She didn't think she'd be able to fall to fall asleep tonight, have to read in bed for a while....