Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shanghai Friends

We are so thankful for the Shanghai friends who came to see us this summer.  It made our transition back to the US so much easier, knowing that these dear people can be a part of our life here too.

We love you all!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Last days of summer, First day of school

 Here's a photo tribute to our last few days of summer...
The girls and I had a few more days this week after Seth started school before theirs began.  We enjoyed a little creek walking, our favorite frozen yogurt place at the river walk in Naperville, and the gardens of Cantigny. The beautiful blue skies were glorious!

 Handstands can happen anywhere...

 Places to climb both tanks and trees at Cantigny
And now today, the girls' first day of school.  They were both up and ready early, so we had time to ham it up for photos before we left.

 3rd grade and 7th grade this year!
They both had a great day... full of things to tell about teachers and friends and lunch and classes.  Low and behold, they both declared math to be one of their favorite classes... hasn't been true in the past for either of them, so something must have gone well!  So glad.  :-)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Seth First Day

Here's Seth right before we hopped in the car at 7 AM this morning to head to his first day at Aurora Christian.  Last night at dinner he noted that Concordia would be starting their first day in about 20 minutes, 13 hours ahead of us in Shanghai.  His heart is there, as you can see by his Concordia bag in this picture.

We had a great ride this morning, though, cranking the worship songs and chatting.  The faculty was in the parking lot to greet the students as we pulled in, but I still couldn't stop my tears as he got out of the car and walked in alone, to the beginning of his new high school experience.  I feel like our years in China have helped my kids be so courageous in many ways... he will be fine, and I know God has great things for him in this new place.  Still hard for this mama's heart to see him start out into this new thing alone.  Can't wait to pick him up at 2:50 and hear how it went.

Today is also Caleb's first day of classes at Valpo.  No first day picture this year!  He did text me a pic of his dorm room last night, a little more put together than we left him in it on Saturday.  :-)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Last night at home before college

His stuff is piled up in the kitchen.  Our biggest suitcase is filled with all his clothes.  There's a backpack with laptop, pens and pencils, blank spiral notebooks.  A rolled up piece of carpet.  A duffel bag full of sports equipment.  A big box full of miscellaneous items- a framed photo of friends from Concordia, granola bars, a plug strip, PS-3 games, cold medicine.

Tomorrow morning at 8 AM we leave for Valparaiso.  We're all going on this journey... seems symbolic somehow, to have all of us together for his leap into life on his own.  We will go six and return five.

We had a great evening tonight.  He chose a Japanese steak house where they cook at your table for dinner.  So fun!  We all laughed as the chef bounced an egg on his spatula and flipped bits of chicken into the guys' mouths.  When we got home there was just enough daylight left for a little baseball in the school field behind our cul-de-sac, an activity we've enjoyed often this summer.  We had a fire on the patio once it grew dark, with Seth at the guitar and marshmallows and laughs around.  We came inside to watch some old family video... 2002, I think it was.  Wow, the kids were cute and funny then!

And then it was time to gather the last few things.  Scott rolled up the piece of carpet.  Caleb carried things from his room to the kitchen.  I found a picture of Scott, Caleb and I taken last spring and tucked it in his backpack.  We prayed.

Now we will sleep.  Tomorrow is a new adventure... for him, for all of us.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Today was the first time Gwen had her hair cut by someone other than me.  Madelyn talked her into it yesterday and she was chomping at the bit to have it done today.  We all think the results are so cute!
 She looks a lot older, don't you think?  :-)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Beach, Pizza, Mud and Time Together

We had a little get-away this weekend, partly for Caleb's 18th birthday and partly because our kitchen cabinets were being painted and we wanted to have everyone out of the way so the job could be completed.  After an early morning trip to the Dept. of Motor Vehicles for C to get his driver's license (yes, kids who live years in China do get to drive eventually!), we made our way around the bend to Michigan, to Silver Beach in St. Joseph.  The water was c-o-l-d, but the sun and sand were warm and we had a great afternoon playing on the beach.

We had dinner at a pizza place right by the beach with our dear Shanghai friend, Sheila, who lives in St. Joe when she's not in China.  :-)  She graciously invited all seven of us (another Shanghai friend, Matt, from our first year there, was with us this weekend) to spend the night in her home... what a treat to get a little visit with her!

Love this shot of our birthday boy, now an official adult!  He's liking his dinner.  :-)

 Fun in the cute downtown area of St. Joseph after dinner.
Sunday, after church and brunch with Sheila and her daughter Alexa, we went to the Warren Dunes State Park.  The dunes are SO high... hard to get perspective in a photo, but you can see how teeny tiny the people at the top are!  Madelyn and Gwen are standing at the bottom, contemplating the climb ahead of them.
 Starting the ascent strong... soon everyone slowed to a crawl!
 Finally made it!

The run back down is so exhilarating... almost makes you want to climb up again so you can run down again!

 After the climb, we walked down the beach to a creek where we knew we would find the special, sticky mud just right for coating your body... if you wish.  
 Everyone started with just a little at first...
 When we finally reached the place where the mud was plentiful, everyone got busy.

 Matt giving himself a mud scrub... don't people pay big money for this in the spa?

 Caleb in a turtleneck.
 Jungle girl!
 The crew is nicely coated.  I managed to stay mostly mud free... I had the camera!

After our walk out of the woods and over a few dunes, the guys were pretty dried out!  Their mud coating was tight and cracking and they were ready for a good wash in the cold Lake Michigan waters.
So fun!  We did this trip years ago with the Sauer family, before Gwen.  It was cool to be back again.  Fun to have this family weekend with Caleb- Saturday is move-in day at Valpo, so this was the last family weekend of the summer.  We ended our little trip with a visit to Shedd Aquarium in Chicago today.  I loved having the kids all together for these three days.  It will be a while before we have this kind of time together again.  Sigh... grateful.  :-)